Washminster

Washminster
Washminster

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Rules for Referenda

The Coalition has announced that there will be a referendum on changing to the Alternative Vote method for elections (in place of the current 'First Past the Post'). Future Washminster articles will consider both systems and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The law governing the holding and conduct of a referendum is to be found in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). A summary and explanation of the main provisions can be found in a House of Commons Library Standard Note available here.

The rules deal with the timing of the referendum (there is a minimum time between the legislation authorising a specific referendum getting the Royal Assent and the actual referendum - to ensure an adequate campaigning period); donations and expenditure.

Last week Baroness Quin asked a written question - "To ask Her Majesty's Government what use of referendums they propose for the British political system."

The answer given was -

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The coalition's programme for government includes proposals for future referendums and the introduction of a requirement for future referendums to be held in certain specified circumstances.

We will bring forward legislation providing for a referendum on the alternative vote system for future elections to the House of Commons.

Local people will be given the power to hold local referendums on any local issues to instigate change for the better in their local areas.

To further our aim of increasing democratic and parliamentary control, scrutiny and accountability over EU decision-making, any proposed future treaty that transfers competences or areas of power will be subject to a referendum. In addition, the use of any major ratchet clause which amounted to the transfer of an area of power to the EU will also be subject to a referendum. However, we have agreed that there should be no further transfer of sovereignty or powers from the UK to the European Union over the course of this Parliament.

The Government will set out further details of how they intend to take forward these commitments in due course.

There are also plans for a referendum in Wales on the powers of the National Assembly of Wales

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