We want to ensure that when it comes to our own referendum it is clear to everyone that there has been fairness. In the case of other EU referendums, when the stakes have been incredibly high and when it has been possible for huge amounts of money to be spent, there

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have been allegations of dirty tricks. We do not want that to happen in our own country. Our Government must show that they will insist on a free, fair, balanced and clean referendum, with equitable arrangements for all sides. As we know, a large proportion of the populace is already somewhat disengaged from and disenchanted with politics, and allowing such an overspend by one side would only deepen those feelings. It would reinforce the idea that the deck is stacked and the game is rigged.

Members in all parts of the House are profoundly aware of how difficult it can be to engage ordinary people in the political process. Too often, we meet with responses such as “What is the point?”, “It will not change anything”, “It is all fixed anyway”, and “If voting changed anything, they would abolish it.” We reject that, as politicians and as people who value debate in the House of Commons. We want the referendum to be fair. However, the mindset of many people out there must be acknowledged and challenged.

Public confidence in our parliamentary democracy is a matter of grave concern, and this referendum is a crucial turning point. The very fact that it is taking place is testimony to the Prime Minister’s having kept his word, and that has meant a great deal in the context of restoring confidence in the whole EU debate and in our democracy. As I have said several times, and as everyone knows, no one under the age of 55 has yet had a chance to vote yes or no in a referendum such as this. There is now a great opportunity for a really good debate, and for both sides to be given broadly equal funding to enable them to put their arguments.

Finally, let me say to the Minister that more needs to be done. The Government need to ensure that this problem is addressed.

Stephen Gethins: As Members will know, my party has some experience of referendums. I assure Members in all parts of the House that SNP Members will act constructively when it comes to this referendum—if it goes ahead—and that, like the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), we want to see a fair referendum.

It must be said that we were not originally in favour of the referendum. It was not in our manifesto, and, given that—as Members will know—we won the election in Scotland, we think that we have a mandate to bring that manifesto to the House. We also think that there has been no significant change in the position. I struggle to see where the Prime Minister is gaining any of the friends whom he will need to gain if he is to see the concessions he wants. He seems to be going about things in a way that is losing him friends and influence throughout Europe.

However, if—as appears increasingly likely—the EU referendum is indeed to go ahead, we want it to meet the gold standard that was set by the Scottish independence referendum, which featured a level of democratic activity that Members in all parts of the House will have welcomed. The turnout of between 85% and 86% was far higher than any election turnout in recent times, and the public became involved in the democratic process to an extent that we had not seen before. Our wish for public involvement was one of our reasons for wanting 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum, and 75% of them took the opportunity to do so.

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The Scottish referendum was notable for the diversity of the campaigning groups—many of which my hon. Friends were involved in—and the huge upsurge in democratic involvement. All of us, in all parts of the House, think a great deal about how we can involve young people more often, and how we can ensure that more groups are involved in the democratic process. Regardless of whether people voted yes or no in that referendum—I know that Members of this House campaigned on both sides—I think it valuable for us to draw lessons from a robust experience of democracy that won plaudits throughout the world. None of us should ever lose sight of that, and all of us should take some pride in it.

We will support any amendments that provide for a fair playing field and a positive campaign. What turns people off—as we saw in the independence referendum campaign—is negative campaigning and scaremongering. Members in various parties will be well aware of that. We want to talk about the benefits of Europe. The Prime Minister talks about powers that may need to be returned and we all talk about areas in need of reform, but why do we not have a positive debate about where we can have more Europe and more engagement with the EU? I am talking about areas like security issues and the challenges we face in the Mediterranean and a resurgent Russia and the problems in Ukraine at present.

4 pm

We also want to see a greater social Europe. After all, people went over to Europe to campaign for a living wage. That is another area we could look at, as is climate change. No state can tackle climate change on its own, so why do we not look for more powers for Europe to tackle it?

So, yes, we will talk about, and engage in, reform in this debate, but reform should be a two-way process. It should be about more powers for Europe as well as fewer.

We want to play a constructive role. Even though we were against the referendum—we have made that clear—and we voted against it, we are willing to draw on our experiences in the independence referendum, where the Government are willing to listen, and to pass on what we learned from a very positive referendum role model.

The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) said earlier that the referendum must be fair, and described procedural issues as footnotes. That is one area on which we will disagree. SNP Members have some experience of purdah periods during referendums, and we would very much like purdah to be followed and we want it to be respected. We do not want to see any vows being thrown up in the days before the referendum process.

Scotland has shown that a referendum provides a democratic opportunity. We do not think this referendum as it stands meets the gold standard set by the Scottish independence referendum. However, we are willing to work with Members across the House to make sure it does, and I hope they will accept some of our amendments.

Mr Jenkin: I rise briefly in connection with some amendments standing in my name, such as amendments 32, 29, 22, 30 and 26, relating to provisions in the Bill that struck me as very strange to begin with. They seemed to

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envisage that royal charter bodies and certain types of charity should become permitted participants as campaigners in referendums and permitted donors to referendum campaigns. The matter of charities and the function of the Charity Commission is the responsibility of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and it is something we have taken a great deal of care and interest over. I have made inquiries of the Charity Commission, and I am extremely grateful that it has furnished me with a comprehensive note explaining that this is a slightly bizarre tidying-up exercise. It brings the provisions in this Bill into line with what was agreed in the Lobbying Bill which is now an Act from the last Parliament. The Charity Commission is very clear that the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 does not give the charities it covers a general power to campaign or make donations to campaigns.

I will be grateful if the Minister replying to this debate makes it clear that there is no suggestion that charities are being empowered to be donors or participants under this Bill. They are of course governed by charity law and the regulations set down by the Charity Commission. Those are still enforced. This Bill does not alter charity law. When we were conducting the north-east says no campaign, some charities—I shall not embarrass them now by naming them—did allow their logos to be used on the yes campaign website. We quickly made our concern about that clear to the Charity Commission, and they were quickly instructed to take down their logos as this was a misuse of charitable funds and of their logos.

Charities are not intended to be involved in political campaigning. Of course, many of them are involved in campaigns that have political implications—for example, anti-slavery and child trafficking campaigns are legitimate campaigns—but they are not allowed to get involved in party political campaigns. Charities can be punished for making donations to political parties, and it is important for them to understand that this also applies to donations and participation relating to referendums, as set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. That is all that these provisions are intended to do. I therefore do not intend to press my amendments to a vote.

It strikes me that any intervention by a charity would pale into insignificance when compared with the imbalance that is being locked into the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), when speaking to amendment 53, drew our attention to the fact that political parties would be allowed to participate pro rata according to the vote they received in the general election. Incidentally, the European Union was not a major issue at the general election. It was an issue, but not the major one, and the election result hardly constitutes a mandate for spending on this scale.

If the Government were released from purdah, or if we could not contain what the European institutions were able to do during the referendum, the issue of charities would be very small beer. It is important, none the less, for the charities to realise that they must not get themselves into difficulties by misinterpreting the provisions of the Bill. I would be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), would reiterate that that is the case.

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Alex Salmond: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin). I recall that, once upon a time, he stood for a group of radical young Conservatives north of the border. I think they called themselves the White Rose group. We were wearing white roses during the debate on the Queen’s Speech in his honour, and I dare say we would welcome him back to try his luck again north of the border some time. He spoke wisely about ensuring fairness in a referendum campaign. I agree that the restrictions on charitable groups contained in the amendments pale into insignificance when compared with some of the other imbalances—or dangers of imbalance—in the legislation that we are trying to correct.

The hon. Gentleman was also right to mention the activities of Sir Nicholas Macpherson, which his Committee quite rightly brought to book, and the dangers of a lack of observance of civil service impartiality, particularly during a campaign period. I should say that Sir Nicholas threatened to reach for his lawyers when he saw an advance copy of a book that I published recently. It is available for £12.99 at all good bookshops. [Laughter.] In a letter to the editor of The Scottish Sun newspaper, he said that he was considering his “legal options for redress”. I am pleased to say that, in the interest of freedom of speech, the articles in the newspaper went ahead, as did the book. As yet, we have not heard from Sir Nicholas’s representatives—Sue, Grabbit and Runne, or whoever the permanent secretary to the Treasury uses these days.

We have reached an extraordinary situation when we find ourselves lecturing charities and regulating their activities without any evidence that any charity is about to breach the fairness rules—except for the rather slight evidence mentioned earlier in relation to the north-east referendum some years ago—but we are not concentrating on the hugely serious potential imbalance that could result from the activities of Government Ministers breaching purdah or from civil servants breaching impartiality rules. By all means, let us have assurances about the range of amendments that have been proposed. Incidentally, never in any European debate in this House have I seen such a small number of speakers ready to address the amendments before us. Let us examine the amendments by all means, but let us also remember that this is a small matter compared with the other matters that we have been discussing.

Earlier in the proceedings, I was astonished to see real concern being expressed across the Chamber about fairness and impartiality in relation to what could happen during the campaign period. I was also clear that if the Labour party had been prepared to adopt a more robust stance, we could have had it written into this Bill the impartiality that we previously had through the observance of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 rules. There was even enthusiasm for an enforcement mechanism, without which rules and regulations have no effect whatsoever. I think that Labour will look back at those lost opportunities and recover a little bit of political momentum. Its Front-Bench team was quite extraordinary today, in its lack of answers to the question of how, when the opportunity beckoned, to defeat the Government in a major matter and to ensure fairness and impartiality in the observance of legislation that a previous Labour Government had passed.

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Mr Rees-Mogg: I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I find myself in a surprising degree of agreement with what he is saying, but there is a chance that the sinner repenteth, because similar amendments may come forth on Report.

Alex Salmond: As I understand it, and I am open to correction from Sir Roger, the sinner may get a chance to repent even before that. Amendment 11 has still to be called in our proceedings, so the sinner may get a chance to repent on Report, at the eleventh hour or at 7 o’clock this evening. Let us all hope that the sinner does repent whenever they choose to.

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): As I am being quoted, may I just say to the right hon. Gentleman that I shall not be taking repentance at that time?

Alex Salmond: I wish to make it absolutely clear for the record that the only sinners to which we are referring are those who were previously located on the Labour Front Bench. I am not talking about anyone else in the House.

There is a serious point. Whatever side of this referendum campaign we want to adopt, and if we are all agreed that it is important that everyone sees the referendum as fair and square, the rules should be drawn up in such a way to give a proper contest—a square goal, as some of my Glaswegian colleagues might say. If there is to be a genuine and fair contest, it does require us, when opportunities present themselves to defeat the Government, as they so rarely do, to ensure that those opportunities are taken. I appeal to the Labour Front Bench Members—perhaps they will communicate this to their colleagues—to see that that opportunity still beckons to ensure that that can happen later in our proceedings.

The Government’s position across a range of matters seems to be somewhat disorganised. I know that there was a great anxiety on the part of Government to rush forward with this Bill immediately after the general election. Perhaps they wanted to catch out the Labour party, which was still in a state of leadership limbo. A number of things already in our proceedings tell us that insufficient thought has gone into the Government’s position. There was that extraordinary climbdown, or cave-in, on Government amendment 55. I welcome the fact that respect has belatedly been shown to the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it does not have the smack of a Government that have considered their point of view. Across a range of matters, particularly with regard to purdah, there is a sign that the Government have not sufficiently thought through their position.

Earlier, I was told that it is in order for the Minister for Europe to circulate a letter, only to his colleagues, that says what might happen on Report if people do not press their amendments inconveniently. I see that the experienced hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who spoke from a sedentary position—we all welcome him back to his place—is smiling. He has been on the receiving end of many such letters over the years—probably more than the rest of us put together. I do think that it is somewhat remiss of the Government to distribute information only to those on the Conservative Benches.

Earlier, I was struck by the actions of the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke). He had not received the communication, but within seconds of it being passed to him, decided that he was in favour

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of it. That was a remarkable rush to judgment, I would say, both in terms of the climbdown we have seen on the date of the referendum and of the inadequate thought that has been given to this hasty revocation of the purdah considerations.

Sir Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Should the Government not be commended for listening and being flexible, rather than condemned?

Alex Salmond: When in government, I always listened and was always flexible. One interpretation of events might be that, when the Government realised yesterday at about 7pm—when the Democratic Unionist party decided to sign the SNP amendment—that they were about to go down to a defeat not of ones and twos but of 10s and 20s because they could not carry a majority of the House, they prepared what can only be called a 9.35, spatchcock, last-minute amendment and tabled it as a starred amendment with the Clerks. That could be called flexibility and listening or blind panic that they would go down to a defeat. Whether it was blind panic, as most of us think, or whether it was the listening Government that the right hon. Gentleman aspires to, it is a welcome concession.

4.15 pm

Mr Jenkin: I should correct the right hon. Gentleman. The correct title of the group to which he referred, to which I and others such as Mr Speaker and one of the Deputy Speakers, the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mrs Laing), belonged, was called the White Guard.

I want to pick up the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the letter. It says that the Government wish to use civil servants to explain the position arising from the renegotiation during the purdah period. If the referendum is not going to be about the Government’s deal with the EU, what is it going to be about? The letter says that the Government want to use the government machinery for precisely the purpose that they should not be allowed to use it for.

Alex Salmond: That is an excellent point. I bow to the hon. Gentleman’s memory as to the White Guard as opposed to the White Rose group. I am delighted to receive the information that Mr Speaker was a member. I cannot believe that he was unsuccessful in an election anywhere, but I am delighted to have that information. No doubt I shall use it at some point in the future.

I am afraid that I have just got the letter through Twitter and have not had a chance to examine it fully. The hon. Gentleman makes a serious point that goes to the heart of the profound issues that he and others have raised.

Sir Edward Leigh: I thought that the white rose was a Jacobite symbol and then a Tory symbol. I am surprised that the SNP has adopted it, but I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for adopting our symbol. Notwithstanding the arguments about purdah—he makes some good points—does he agree that it is important that there is broad equality of spending on both sides?

Alex Salmond: The hon. Gentleman should be aware that there is a Jacobite white rose. I have always had the hon. Gentleman down for a Jacobin rather than a Jacobite, but there is also the MacDiarmid rose in the poem:

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“The rose of all the world is not for me

I want for my part

Only the little white rose of Scotland

That smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart.”

SNP Members were adorned by the MacDiarmid rose during the Queen’s Speech.

The point about spending limits is well made. Fairness in terms of spending capacity is one important part of elections and referendums. There is an enforcement mechanism—some may say that it is not always used as rigorously as it could be—for election or referendum spending rules and there are severe penalties for breaching them. There is no such effective mechanism for breaches of purdah or when Ministers or civil servants go clearly outside the purdah rules. I commend to the hon. Gentleman the new clauses, which we will vote on later, which would introduce exactly such an enforcement mechanism to ensure fairness not just in our debates but in a referendum.

Sir William Cash: The civil service code does not impose any restriction on civil servants as far as I am told. That would definitely have to be dealt with, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests.

Alex Salmond: I am delighted to have given way to the hon. Gentleman, who is in a sedentary position. His colleague the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), whose Committee’s report condemned the activities of Sir Nicholas Macpherson a few months ago, has alluded to exactly why that should be done. The hon. Member for Stone is right and I commend him to look at our new clauses 3 and 4, which seek to set out what the rules should be and to provide an enforcement mechanism to make sure that they are adhered to.

You have been patient, Sir Roger, and I know that a number of other hon. and right hon. Members wish to speak. I say to the Government that this debate has already flung up a range of issues. There are severe deficiencies in the Bill, although we certainly welcome the concession on the timing of the referendum, whether that happened as a result of listening or of panic. However, there are other areas on which the Government have not yet convinced me as a pro-European or, I suspect, some of their colleagues who take a different view on the European referendum. The joint view that we hold, as far as is possible, is that we would like to see a referendum that is conducted in a proper and fair manner.

Sir William Cash: I am going to speak to my amendment 9, which is a simple amendment with very important consequences and implications. It would ensure that the referendum period lasts for at least 16 weeks.

Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, there is a maximum six-week period for potential lead campaigners to apply and be appointed, followed by a minimum four-week period before the poll. However, the Electoral Commission, drawing on its experience of regulating the rules for the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, has concluded that an alternative approach is needed to the timetable for appointing lead campaigners. The amendment recommends that, should the legislative timetable allow for it, the appointment should take place shortly before rather than during the first six weeks of the referendum period.

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The effect would be to provide clarity at an earlier stage for voters and campaigners, and to ensure that the lead campaigners were in place shortly before the majority of the regulatory controls come into force. I cannot think of anything much more important than people knowing who is running which organisations. That would therefore allow for a shorter total duration of the subsequent referendum period—for example, a designation period of six weeks—with a subsequent 10-week regulated campaign period.

This is a massively important referendum and it is pretty astonishing that there is a vacuum on this subject. This is an extremely important amendment. The Minister for Europe is not in his place, but one of the senior Whips is, which is no substitute—

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (John Penrose): I am the Minister responsible for constitutional reform.

Sir William Cash: I do beg my hon. Friend’s pardon. He was a Whip a short time ago, but he has now been promoted, on which I congratulate him. I hope he will pass back the message that we really must have a substantive response to this question.

Furthermore, the amendment will extend the minimum referendum period to 16 weeks, thus providing for a minimum 10-week post-appointment period. I am glad to say that the Electoral Commission supports my amendment; indeed, it supports the majority of my amendments. It says that extending the period to 16 weeks

“would go some way to giving designated lead campaign groups the time needed to get their messages to voters, including to plan and effectively use free mailing and TV broadcasts.”

As a matter of fairness—that hallowed expression—I cannot think of anything more important.

Mr Jenkin: I commend my hon. Friend’s amendment, to which I have added my name, but does that not presuppose that the Government will conclude the negotiations and report them to the House well before the 16-week period kicks in, and that it is not legitimate for them then to use the Government’s machinery to explain the deal that they have reached through the purdah period and the 16-week period up to polling day? Does that not suggest that the Government will try to pull a fast one? Would it not be better if they made it clear now that they are going to conclude the deal long before the referendum is called so that there can be a proper and dispassionate debate about it?

Sir William Cash: I very much agree with my hon. Friend and I will go further and say that in the period between now and Report there will be substantial issues of this kind that we will need to dig into. There are references to counsel’s opinion on the purdah period and views that have been expressed by the Electoral Commission. We had a Bill before us without our having any idea of the outcome of the negotiations. This is not a satisfactory way to proceed.

As one who spent 25 years in very senior practice as a constitutional and administrative lawyer dealing with matters such as the dispute between Canada and Quebec, I can only say that counsel’s opinion is not the basis on which to make political decisions. We as lawyers may be very good at coming up with legal answers, but when I

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get my hands on that counsel’s opinion, as eventually we did on the Iraq opinion, there will be quite a lot of question marks. As my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) said in an earlier intervention, the Government can take their counsel’s opinion; we will take ours.

That is the position on that important amendment. The Electoral Commission supports the principle behind it. Will the Minister be good enough to give us a substantive reply and support amendment 9? I might not hold my breath about that.

The other amendment in my name, amendment 10—again, I am grateful for the support of hon. Members who have signed it—would ensure that no funds or support provided directly or indirectly by European Union bodies have a bearing on the outcome of the referendum. Is there any conceivable basis on which the Committee of the whole House would think a proper and fair referendum could be conducted if the entire resources of the European Commission and the European Union can be deployed in order to support a yes vote in the United Kingdom? By the way, there is no chance whatever that those bodies will not use all that money. They may have problems with Greece and they do not want a Grexit, but that pales into insignificance.

This is a very important proposal. The Electoral Commission takes the view that it already has controls on direct and indirect sources of campaign funding. Before I come to that, I refer to the situation as it applied in Ireland. I have spoken, debated and been at mass meetings when campaigners have been good enough to invite me in the run-up to referendums in France, Ireland, Denmark—all over Europe. There one sees the power of the state, pouring money down the throats of voters, and the machinery that underpins the yes campaign. I have come across some figures suggesting that in the second Irish referendum the amount of money deployed by the yes campaign after the machinery was geared up was around 15 times the amount available to the no campaign. That shows the scale of the problem.

4.30 pm

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman’s concern is partly due to the behaviour of José Manuel Barroso, the former President of the European Commission, during the Scottish referendum, and whether that model is what he envisages seeing, in amplification, in the European referendum.

Sir William Cash: It certainly is. I have heard over and over again in this debate claims that, “We all want fairness. We all want transparency. We all want to be sure that the British people are treated fairly.” The fact is that with European Union money there is not the slightest chance of that happening, and the purdah arrangements, by bringing the civil service into the equation, will have exactly the same negative effect.

Mr MacNeil: By extension, the logical conclusion of what the hon. Gentleman has just said is that the Scottish people were not treated fairly last September.

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Sir William Cash: The hon. Gentleman is seeking to draw me down that path, but I have been in this place for 31 years and will not buy that one. I am very glad that we got the vote we did last September, but that does not prevent me from being critical of the manner in which the procedures were followed.

I want to say something else. We have mentioned Mr Barroso. Here we are in the Westminster Parliament, described as the mother of Parliaments, and yesterday the celebrations for the Magna Carta were seen all over the world. The fact is that the traditions of those two things are illuminated around the world. We have fought in two world wars, against unprovoked aggression, and through our Parliament—through Churchill in this Parliament—we managed to save not just the United Kingdom, but Europe. They managed to drop a bomb on this place on my first birthday. Indeed, on the day I was born Hitler invaded Holland and France and Churchill became Prime Minister, but that is another story. The fact is that we have played a massive part in relation to democracy. What really worries me is that allowing the European Union to use its financial resources to manipulate the system is very dangerous.

According to the Electoral Commission, a central principle of its regulatory regime is to ensure—this is important—

“that foreign sources of funding do not have an undue influence on our democratic process.”

As hon. Members know, I have an eagle eye for the danger points. The Electoral Commission states that the 2000 Act, which sets out that regulatory regime,

“already provides that referendum campaigners are only able to accept donations over £500 from certain ‘permissible’ sources. In general, the permissibility rules provide that funding can only be accepted by referendum campaigners from certain UK-based sources. There are also rules and offences related to using permissible donors as agents to circumvent the rules.”

The Electoral Commission therefore put in place its regulatory arrangements. What it goes on to say is extremely important, and I still believe that my amendment would achieve this, because it uses the words “directly” and “indirectly” when talking about moneys, resources or support from any source within the European Union. The Electoral Commission states:

“It is important that the legislation is clear about those organisations that can and cannot participate in the referendum. The Commission’s view—

wait for it—

is that the European Commission does not fall within the list of bodies that can register as a campaigner or donate to other referendum campaigners. This amendment is therefore unnecessary.”

However, the analysis that I have provided shows the reach of the tentacles of the European Union, driven by Mr Barroso and his successors—Mr Juncker and all the others. We must never forget that Mr Barroso has said that the European Parliament, and only the European Parliament, is the Parliament for the European Union. He and his successors do not believe in this Parliament. There is a lot of talk now about national Parliaments, but his comments are on the record.

The Electoral Commission’s view is that the European Commission does not fall within the list of bodies that can register as campaigners. We should look into that carefully, because if the Electoral Commission were wrong, the European Commission might manage to worm its way in, on the scale that it has at its disposal,

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and subsidise the yes vote. I understand that that happened in Ireland, not to mention other countries throughout the European Union.

The Prime Minister has said that we can find an answer to the problems inherent in the purdah question. The Government acknowledge that there are problems with section 125 of the 2000 Act, but they say that they will get around them. That would include dealing with the civil service, but we must remember that the civil service includes permanent representatives. Members who are new to the House may not know about COREPER, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, which is the most powerful body in the European Union bar none, because it stitches up deals between all the member states. As Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, I took evidence from our chief representative on that body. I emphasise to the Committee that the evaporation of section 125, combined with the monetary intrusion of the European Union, represents a monumental challenge to our democratic system.

Mr Jenkin: My hon. Friend is explaining coherently how even though the European Commission does not consider itself to be a permitted participant or a permitted donor in a UK referendum campaign, its ability to fund bodies that will be participants or campaigners is unlimited. What about the Brussels-backed CBI, which has already received funds from the European Union, presumably to promote the EU? What is to prevent the CBI from receiving further funds? What restrictions will the Bill place on the CBI’s ability to receive such funds if it wants to donate to other campaigns?

Sir William Cash: This is vital territory. In a nutshell, we will have to get it right. Opening the floodgates on that money would be devastating, especially if it were to be employed alongside the lifting of the restrictions in section 125, which would bring the whole panoply of the civil service into play. That would be a nightmare scenario, but it is a genuine possibility. I am not convinced that the European Union is not a foreign source, although I will look into that. We passed an Act of Parliament, the European Communities Act 1972, under which we absorbed into our legislation all the treaties and all the functions of the bodies in the European Union. Because they became part of our constitutional settlement—for the time being, I trust—I believe that it would be an uncertain, if not a dangerous, assumption to make that the European Union and the European Commission would not be construed as being based in the United Kingdom as well as in all the other EU countries, in other words, as not being a foreign source. This matter will have to be looked at very carefully. I shall consult and confer with my colleagues as to what we do about these amendments.

Mr MacNeil: Part of the difficulty that the UK has is the way that countries such as Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are to be treated. We also have the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; we do not consider Commonwealth citizens to be foreign but do consider some European Union citizens to be foreign. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself is anomalous because the Irish Republic is neither in the Commonwealth nor is it considered legally foreign in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom’s own mess is contributing to some of the arguments that the hon. Gentleman is making.

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Sir William Cash: I respond merely by saying that there are those who once described the Foreign Office as the Common and Foreignwealth Office, but that is another story.

Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): Will my hon. Friend help me to understand his amendment 10? It appears to bar people who want to engage in the process by donating to the in or out campaign from doing so because of their business interests. For example, a large agricultural company that was receiving basic payment scheme money from the European Union would not be able to donate to an in or out campaign because it was getting that assistance. The same could be said for many industrial companies that may receive grants to extend their factories, or other such support mechanisms.

Sir William Cash: It is a question of the manner in which the funds or support are provided. As far as I am concerned, the framework of amendment 10 is to do with campaign funding and donations. The interstices and tentacles of the European Union are so extensive that we will keep bumping into these problems. The scale of the moneys in question is so huge that we have to be sure about this. The determination of the European Union bodies to keep Britain in the European Union is such that they will stop at nothing to use every means that they legally can to ensure that the money goes where they want it for the yes campaign.

I will confer with my colleagues on what we do about amendments 9 and 10.

Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). I associate myself entirely with the comments made earlier in welcoming him to this debate. I will often disagree with what he says, but I am delighted to see someone who goes to such efforts to express in this Chamber views that are very clearly and sincerely held. I always think that a sincere political opponent is the kind of opponent one likes to have a debate with.

I want to focus on amendments 53 and 32. I have some sympathy with the intention behind amendment 53, but from my experience of the referendum in Scotland last year, I suggest that the last thing anybody should want to do is to artificially restrict or control the number of individuals in organisations who can play their own small but important part in what should be a celebration of grassroots democracy if we get it right; it could be something very different if we get it wrong.

The Scottish independence referendum was the biggest celebration of grassroots democracy that I have ever seen or expect to see. That was partly because neither the political parties nor anyone else tried to artificially control who was and was not allowed to take part. I am sure that on a number of occasions the SNP’s lawyers were quite pleased that they were not in control of some of the things that were happening. That is what made it so much fun, that is what gave us a record-breaking turnout, and that is why public engagement in politics in Scotland is still at a much higher level than it was just a few years ago.

I caution the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) to be careful about artificially restricting this debate to the great and the good and suchlike. A lot of wee people out there have something important to

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say, and a lot of smaller organisations will have an important part to play, on both sides of the question. We should encourage them to have their say rather than artificially restrict them.

It is interesting to hear so many Conservative MPs complaining that they might get outspent in an election campaign; in almost 30 years of party politics, I do not often remember Conservatives complaining that an election was not fair if one party was being massively funded by big business and was able to outspend all the other parties combined by a factor of five or 10.

Mr MacNeil: There is also an irony in the Conservatives’ concerns that European organisations might dip their oars in this debate, given their negligible worries about the Committees and machinations of Government during the Scottish referendum.

Peter Grant: My hon. Friend makes a good and valid point. Conservatives expressing concerns about possible unfairness in the conduct of this referendum are referring to exactly the kind of unfairness that they and their colleagues were happy to exploit in the Scottish referendum.

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a debating point, which is acceptable to an extent. However, he should stick to this referendum rather than previous ones.

Peter Grant: I stand corrected, Mr Howarth; I apologise.

I turn to amendment 32. I understand the intention behind it, as charities should be doing charitable work rather than being engaged full time in political campaigning. However, let me give one example of its possible unintended and undesirable consequences.

4.45 pm

One of the two moving maiden speeches earlier was made by the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq). She spoke movingly and passionately about the positive influence that those born beyond the shores of these nations have had on the wider community. It is not impossible to imagine the referendum debate being dragged off in the wrong direction. The hon. Lady perceptively mentioned the danger that the debate about EU membership could be turned by some into a debate about immigration, and such a debate can quickly turn hostile to immigrants as human beings. If that was allowed to happen—and powerful voices in sections of the media will want it to—some citizens might begin to feel unwelcome, vulnerable and threatened by some of the propaganda. The organisations whose job is to make those citizens feel welcome and help them play a full part in our society might find themselves prohibited from speaking out—not about whether people should vote yes or no, but about the need for the tone of the debate to calm down because it was damaging communities.

I say to the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who tabled amendment 32, that I understand his intention but we should be careful about the potential consequences. In the past, debate allegedly about Europe has had the tone I have described. Parts of my constituency have significant populations of eastern European citizens, and I have seen the effect on them

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when a debate about Europe has become a debate about immigration policy and very quickly then about the rights of some of those people to be here. I understand why they might start to feel very uncomfortable.

We were not particularly in favour of the referendum; we did not see it as necessary. If it is going to happen, however, it has to be fair and be seen to be fair. It will not be enough—certainly for some nations represented here—for the Government to say, “It’s fair—and you know it is because we are telling you it is.” In one or two tiny corners of these islands, trust in Her Majesty’s Government is not exactly at 100%. How the Government conduct themselves during this referendum, particularly in respect of a voluntary or compulsory purdah, could go a long way towards changing the trust in which they are held. That trust could increase or it could be damaged even more than at present.

Mark Spencer: Would the hon. Gentleman extend his remarks to other charities, such as animal welfare charities? Those might have a strong view on how our relationship with the EU affects their ability to do their work on animal welfare or ivory imports, for example.

Peter Grant: Like many Members on these Benches, I am not comfortable with the very severe restrictions that have been put on what charitable organisations can and cannot do. A phrase I have often used at hustings is, “If I say we should give money to the poor, I’ll be called a saint. If, however, I ask why they were poor in the first place, they would call me a communist.” There is a dividing line between any kind of socially beneficial charitable work and getting political. Asking why we have food banks, for example, very quickly becomes a political matter. The hon. Gentleman makes a very valid point, but I am saying that specifically in relation to organisations that work on behalf of citizens—some of them will have a vote in the referendum, but shamefully it looks as though some may not—we have to be very careful not unintentionally to prevent them from doing the job for which they were originally constituted.

Mr MacNeil rose—

Peter Grant: I did promise to give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr MacNeil: My hon. Friend is making a fine speech. Does he agree that the difference in tone between the Scottish referendum and this one arises because in Scotland we talked about the people in Scotland, while in this referendum the talk is of the British people, which is a shame? The talk should be about the people in Britain or, more correctly, the people in the UK. That is what the referendum should be about, and we should not exclude people who live here because of where they were from originally.

Peter Grant: I have always been of the view that people’s nationality should be defined by where they want to go, rather than where they came from, but that definition is not widely accepted.

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Peter Grant: I will take one more intervention, but I will then have to move on.

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Daniel Kawczynski: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising the concerns of those in the eastern European diaspora in this country. Being of Polish origin, I have engaged with many of them. It is true that many such communities are concerned about the referendum and its ramifications for them. I very much hope that he will join me in saying to the eastern European diaspora that this is not about them, but about our position in Europe.

Peter Grant: I am delighted to do so. I am pleased to confirm, as would all my hon. Friends, that from speaking to people from eastern Europe and other people from beyond the shores of the United Kingdom during the Scottish independence referendum, I know that they not only welcomed the fact they were allowed to take part, but felt more Scots—more British, if hon. Members like—as a result of being allowed to take part. However they eventually voted, the fact that they were allowed to partake in such a massive event for our nation meant that they identified even more strongly with our nation afterwards than they had before.

To conclude, now that it very much looks as though the referendum will happen, we must make sure that we get it right. It has got to be fair and seen to be fair. That means that the funding of the different sides must be fair; it does not necessarily have to be equal, but it has to be fair, open and transparent. We have to know who is paying in the money, and therefore who is pulling the strings of the different campaigns. The referendum must be conducted in such as way that everyone who resides in these islands—even those who, it appears, are likely to be denied a vote—feels that they are still entitled to stay here and can accept the result. The only thing that would be worse than holding a referendum would be to hold one that was seen to be rigged or unfair.

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth, and to take part in this debate.

In following the hon. Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant), I want to say two things. First, it is great to see the Scottish National party participating in this Union Parliament so vigorously. That is very welcome. Secondly, he just needs to understand that this referendum is about the future of the United Kingdom in the European Union and is exclusively a matter for the people of the United Kingdom.

Stephen Gethins: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Gerald Howarth: No, I will not.

This is a matter for the people of the United Kingdom to decide. Those who are taking advantage of our liberal society are of course most welcome, but we need to remember that it is for the British people to decide our future in the European Union.

Stephen Gethins rose—

Mr MacNeil rose—

Alex Salmond rose—

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Sir Gerald Howarth: No, I will not give way, because all three Members have spoken and intervened ad nauseam. I have a reception to go to for BAE Systems, the fourth largest defence manufacturer in the world, based in my constituency, and I do not wish to detain the Committee more than is absolutely necessary.

Alex Salmond: On a point of order, Mr Howarth. In a Committee of the whole House, is it a reasonable explanation for not giving way for the hon. Gentleman to say that he has a reception to go to?

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, that is not a point of order. The hon. Gentleman can give way or not. That is a matter of choice for the hon. Gentleman.

Sir Gerald Howarth: It is quite clear that the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) is only distressed because he has not been invited. If he speaks to me very nicely, I might arrange for a wee ticket to be sent to him.

This is a very important subject. I want to put on the record my appreciation for the Prime Minister’s having kept his word to the British people that there would be a referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union. That he has brought forward the Bill so early in the Parliament is highly commendable and indicative of his determination. It is indicative of the current spirit of the Conservative party that this moment is completely unlike 1992, in that we are airing our differences of view and our different concerns in this Committee debate in an amicable spirit, as we try to find the best way through.

There is unanimity in this Chamber that if the referendum is to be successful, it must be fair. Not only do we have to arrange provisions to ensure that it is fair, to the best of our ability; it must be seen by the British people to be fair. There would be nothing worse than to carry out this extensive operation and hold the referendum and, in the end, for people on whichever side of the argument not to be satisfied that the conditions that we in this House laid down for the conduct of the referendum had been fulfilled.

It is right and proper for us to be as precise in framing the rules for the referendum as possible. It is in that spirit that I support amendment 53, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), who is no longer in his place, and amendment 10, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) and to which I am a signatory.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stone says that the Electoral Commission does not believe that it is necessary to include amendment 10, which would limit the capacity of the European Commission to have any involvement whatsoever in the referendum. The Electoral Commission has made a number of important and valid suggestions, but I need to be persuaded on that point. We all know from our constituencies that when a project has been funded in any way by the European Union, those socking great stars are plastered all over it as though it has been funded by the EU. Of course, all of us in this Committee know that it has not been funded by the EU at all, but by the British taxpayer with money that we have given to the European Commission, some of which it kindly gives back to us.

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We need to be very clear that we do not want the European Commission, in any shape or form, sticking its oar into our domestic debate about whether we should continue to be a member of the European Union or seek our fortune elsewhere.

Mark Spencer: I wonder whether my hon. Friend will clarify his remarks, because I think that amendment 10 could have unintended consequences. Many companies and businesses that have received European funding for a project, such as an extension to a factory to create more employment, would be barred from the process and would not be able to fund one side of the argument or the other. Even if they felt passionately that we should be in or out, they would be excluded by the amendment.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I heard my hon. Friend’s intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Stone, and he makes a valid point that we need to address. However, the purpose of amendment 10 is crystal clear: it is to stop the European Commission getting involved or funding third parties to get involved in the campaign. If a company in his constituency that received support under a European Commission scheme five years ago, three years ago, last year or whenever chose to back one side or the other, one would not be able to say that it was doing so because it had received money from the European Commission, but if the European Commission started to fund organisations that were involved in the campaign, that would be unacceptable. We do not want it interfering.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Would it really matter, because surely both sides will get just about equal funding? Where the funding comes from does not matter in the end if both sides get the same rough amount.

5 pm

Sir Gerald Howarth: I should tell my hon. and gallant Friend that if he thinks the European Commission will be impartial in those matters, he has another think coming. I am sure he is far more worldly-wise than to give the Committee the impression that the European Commission will be even-handed. There is no evidence whatever that it has done anything other than use our money to promote the European project. That is what it is on about and what it believes it is necessary to do. It shows no signs of reluctance in pursuing that.

That is all I wanted to say. My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough, who is back in his place, is right in his amendment 53 to suggest that there should be equality of resources. Sir John Major was responsible for imposing initial limits on party spending at general elections some time ago. We can all see the absurd situation in the United States, where it cost $1 billion to get President Obama elected. We do not have that absurd system in this country and it is right that we have a limit. My hon. Friend’s amendment moves in that right direction, so I support it.

Kelvin Hopkins: Just to reinforce the point that the hon. Gentleman makes about America compared with Britain, I was recently on a parliamentary visit to Washington where we met a senior member of the

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Democratic party. I explained that there were limits on electoral expenditure in general elections in Britain, unlike in America, and he said, “How civilised.”

Sir Gerald Howarth: That is a very civilised remark from a very civilised Member, who together with me champions the cause of the sixth-form colleges. He and I have the finest sixth-form colleges in the country. Mine is slightly better than his, but there we go.

This debate in Committee is important. If we do not refine the detail in every possible manner, compatible with what my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench know has to be done in order to comply with the law and so on, we have Report stage, when things can be sorted out. However, it must be made crystal clear that we will not have the European Commission interfering in that referendum in the United Kingdom in any shape or form. Amendment 10 gives us the vehicle to send the clearest possible message to Brussels that that is something up with which we will not put.

Mr Rees-Mogg: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in today’s debate, Mr Howarth, and to welcome the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), as the Minister responding. The constitution is always in safe hands when it is in the hands of Somerset, so it is reassuring that he is here to respond.

I want to follow on from what my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) said about amendment 10, on EU funding, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), and to which I have added my name. The appearance of fairness within the referendum is at the heart of what the Government must try to do. The Government, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. It would be wrong if there was any feeling that the referendum was being held improperly, that undue pressure was being brought to bear, or that funding was directed to one side rather than the other—I say that as somebody who supports the Government’s position—but it would be most wrong if British taxpayers’ money funnelled by the European Union ended up being used to campaign for us to remain subject to the European Union.

Mr MacNeil: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Rees-Mogg: It is a delight to give way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil).

Mr MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman’s pronunciation is as impeccable in this Parliament as it was in the last one. I congratulate him once again.

The hon. Gentleman mentions the nonsense and unacceptability of British taxpayers’ money going through the European Union and back again. He will be aware, and perhaps bemused and baffled, that there is much amusement in Scotland that Scottish taxpayers’ money funnelled through the UK Government was used in our referendum to campaign succinctly and definitely on one side. I am thinking of Sir Nicholas Macpherson and many others along with him.

Mr Rees-Mogg: The hon. Gentleman had the opportunity to listen to an excellent debate on that very subject yesterday, led by my hon. Friend the Member

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for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), but I think I would be in trouble if I went through the question of full fiscal autonomy for Scotland in relation to amendment 10 to the European Union Referendum Bill, so I want to stick to the subject at hand.

The European Union has a budget for this. Indeed, we passed a Bill in 2013 that allows for the European Union to engage in political activity and the promotion of the cause and objectives of the European Union. That money flows to institutions within the United Kingdom and that money comes with strings attached. It is money that is given on the basis that the institutions receiving that money support the objectives of the European Union.

Mrs Main: The objective of the European Union is ever greater union. It is therefore not in its interest to allow a member of that union to drift away in any way, shape or form. It will hug it as close as possible.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It would be against the conditions of receipt of that money to use the money to campaign for a member state to leave the European Union.

Some very influential bodies in this country receive money from the European Union. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) said that the CBI receives money from the European Union. We know that the CBI is in part funded by Europe. It is therefore under an obligation either to return that money or to support the objectives of the European Union. When the director-general of the BBC came before the European Scrutiny Committee, he was asked about the money the BBC received from the European Union and the strings that that may have attached. Even the most impartial and highly regarded bodies in our establishment receive money from the European Union, and they take on certain obligations in return.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mark Spencer) made a very good point about what happens to farmers in receipt of subsidies that have come from the European Union. Are they then prohibited from giving money to the Conservative party to campaign in the referendum? No, of course not. He may well be right that the amendment needs improving to ensure that people are not captured by mistake.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman refers to farmers and their obligations. Is he aware that the National Farmers Union in the UK is suggesting to its members that they should stay in the European Union and is asking them to vote accordingly? Does he have concerns, as I do, about that?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I do indeed. I have no idea whether the NFU receives any money from the European Union. If it did, it would be under an obligation to support the objectives of the European Union.

It is a very insidious aspect of how the EU operates. It is why it likes to put its stars up everywhere: to show us what wonderful things Mother Europe is doing to help us and enforcing compliance with its view of the world. We want to make sure that our referendum is held absolutely fairly, without that influence. In terms of that fairness, I want to come on to the debate on schedule 1 stand part. It is schedule 15, referred to in

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schedule 1 to this Bill, that comes to the issue of section 125, the exemption from which removes the whole purdah question for the Government.

I have every confidence that the Prime Minister will lead the no campaign. He will come back and say that what is in the interests of this country, if the renegotiation is not exceptional, is that we leave. He has indicated that in speeches and I admire him for making his views so clear. When he does that, I do not want him to be helped by legerdemain. I do not want the no campaign to benefit from the Government being able to use all their resources to get me what I am likely to want in those circumstances. The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) expects the reverse. He thinks, I happen to think naively, that the Government will come back and wish to campaign for a yes vote. He likewise does not wish to see them being able to use all the powers at the disposal of the Government to push for what they want.

Those powers are considerable. The ability of the arms of central and local government to influence the media and public opinion and to use its PR resources, press officers and administrative and logistical machinery to help one side or the other is considerable. Whichever side of the argument one falls on, it must be right to hope that the referendum will be more than just a staging post in the discussion about Europe, and that it will help put our relationship with Europe on a firm footing that can last for decades rather than weeks. We do not want anyone on either side feeling that the result was so flawed, because of how it was carried out, that we need another referendum.

Stephen Gethins: The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point about putting us on a basis for years to come, rather than months or weeks. In that regard, does he think the Prime Minister should be pushing for co-operation with Europe in more areas, rather than fewer?

Mr Rees-Mogg: No, we co-operate in far too many areas already. I have a lot of sympathy with the SNP’s position in many ways, because it is not entirely different from mine. I want my country, which I view as the UK, to govern herself, and SNP Members want a smaller part of the UK—Scotland, which they view as their country —to govern herself too. It puzzles me that, having got self-government, they want to hand it over to Brussels, but that is a question for them.

Mr MacNeil: My first quibble—the first mistake the hon. Gentleman has made—is that the British Union is not a country, but a union. Secondly, he fails to realise that we only want to change our relationship with London. Our relationship with Brussels would stay the same, under the SNP’s proposals for Scottish independence, which might come very soon.

Mr Rees-Mogg: That is a moot point that was discussed at length during the Scottish referendum campaign and to which I had better not revert.

I want to concentrate on the power, influence and resources of Governments.

Mark Spencer: I acknowledge my hon. Friend’s cynicism about the Government taking a view one way or another, but does he accept that the Government could express

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their view neutrally and thereby help to inform the electorate? It is vital that the electorate are informed and can make a decision based on informed opinion, and surely the Government could have a role in making sure that the Great British public are fully informed in both directions.

Mr Rees-Mogg: No, I am afraid that I fundamentally disagree with my hon. Friend. There are stages in this process. That is what the Bill and the Minister’s letter are trying to get at. The Government will have their renegotiation and then come back with a package saying it is a triumph, whatever is in the package. It might have three loaves and two fishes, or it might give us complete control of our own destiny—whichever it is, the Government will say it is a triumph. That will be the Government’s answer, and they can tell the electorate what they have managed to do. From then on, however, it will become a matter of straightforward politics whether someone believes the Government and agrees with what they have done. I approve of the adversarial system in this country. We do not develop our arguments and get to the answer we want by getting authoritative documents from the Government. Actually, such documents always contain a bias. It might not be obvious on first reading, but, reading through the detail, one will see the way the Government want people to go, and that will bolster the position they have set for themselves.

Sir William Cash: I might be corrected by SNP Members, but, as I understand it, the Electoral Commission put out leaflets during the Scottish referendum campaign agreed between the yes and no campaigns. Even if that did not happen, it might be a way of dealing with the situation. The no and yes campaigns could exchange information and come up with a bottom line, and then that line could be taken and put as a fair choice.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I certainly see no impropriety in that. In the London mayoral campaigns, the views of all the candidates are circulated in a single booklet. That is not improper. Perhaps, however, I am more of a believer in capitalism, in respect of elections as well as the economic structures of the country. I believe that people should campaign for what they want, and should put their own arguments rather than thinking that they could be better put—or even well put—by a nominally independent third party, least of all the Government.

5.15 pm

Once the Government have reached a position in this regard, their circumstances are really no different from their circumstances just before a general election. Before a general election, the Government of course want to be re-elected and to carry on doing the great things that they feel they have done, but they are prohibited from using the organs of the state to promote themselves, because that is thought to be a fundamentally unfair way of dealing with the question that is immediately before the electorate.

The referendum in Scotland is instructive in this context. There was a good deal of unhappiness among members of the SNP about the way in which some arms of Government behaved during the period immediately

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before the referendum. Much though I welcomed the result of that referendum, and much though I thought it was a result to be desired, I think that the Government’s actions in putting their own view at a point that was too close to the deadline was damaging to a cause in which I believe.

Mrs Main: The stakes are very high. If a Government have nailed their colours to a mast when it comes to a particular vote—in or out—and that vote does not go their way, a Government will then be in power for two or three years with a vote that they do not wish to live with, because it was contrary to the colours that they nailed to the mast.

Mr Rees-Mogg: That is a very important point, which may be worth discussing when we debate other amendments. Ultimately, the Government must accept the will of the people—that is what we all believe in, and that is why we are all here—but they must deal with that fairly.

There is also the question of where the Government should proceed from here. There seems to be a wide consensus that paragraph 15 of schedule 1 is deeply unsatisfactory, and that the removal of the issue of purdah was simply a mistake. I am willing to trust the Government, so I accept that it was an honest mistake, and not a mistake that was made in an attempt to fiddle the referendum result. I believe that partly because I am a simple fellow who is very trusting of the Government, but also because trying to fiddle the result will damage whichever side wishes to do it.

The British electorate will not have the wool pulled over their eyes. If little bits of legislation are squirreled away into the Bill to make things easier for one side or the other, those of us who are on the other side will campaign on that basis. We will say, “Look, we need to act against this, because people are trying to fiddle us over what is happening.” There is a wonderfully contrary spirit among the British people, who will not be cowed by those who try to trick them.

Sir William Cash: The explanatory notes relating to section 125 of the 2000 Act were so explanatory that a line and a half said simply, “This is what we are going to do.” For practical purposes, I do not think that my hon. Friend would be entirely right in thinking that the Government got there by mistake, particularly as they had taken counsel’s opinion, which we are determined to ferret out.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I do not know too much about ferreting, or indeed about counsel’s opinion, but my hon. Friend knows only too well that explanatory notes are anything but explanatory. They consist of a complicated a set of notes which, when read carefully in conjunction with a Bill, can shed some light, but I do not think that anyone expects them to be like the Book of Revelation, revealing everything that one could possibly want to know about a Bill. They require Members of Parliament to look diligently at what underlies them.

The Government must examine clause 3 very carefully. They have given undertakings to do so over the next few months, but they need to come back with something that is just as rigorous as what is there already.

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Bob Stewart: Should there not be a clear gap between the offering that the Government have brought back to give to the people and the start of the campaign, which we may wish to call purdah? During the short campaign before the general election, which could be seen as a model, both sides—I am talking just about Labour and the Conservatives—suddenly started to produce new policies. We cannot have that; we want a clear offering followed by a gap, and then the start of the campaign. Does my hon. Friend agree?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and that point has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone. An uncharacteristically weak argument must have been given to the Minister for Europe to read out—he could not have made so poor an argument himself—when he said that if the negotiations have finished it would be very difficult for the Government not to be able to explain them immediately before the election. It cannot be that we will have the referendum two weeks after the negotiations have been concluded. That would be preposterous. There has to be a considerable period of time beforehand, so that what has happened can be understood, debated and campaigned upon. That must mean a period of a minimum of 28 days, as currently set out, but realistically we are going to need three months at the end of the negotiations before we can move straight to the referendum.

Sir William Cash: My hon. Friend is developing an excellent argument, which perhaps brings out the fact that the amendment I have tabled specifies, fully supported by the Electoral Commission, at least a 16-week referendum period, and then it describes how it should be conducted.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am well aware of my hon. Friend’s amendment, and I think the Government need to be thinking along those lines. I am going to support the Government this evening; I am not going to vote with my friends in the SNP on this occasion, or indeed with my hon. Friend the Member for Stone, which is more of a break with the habits of a lifetime. There is an important “but”, and I think other hon. Members on the Government Benches share my view: because the Government have made a mistake at this stage, they now need to come back with something better than we would have needed had they not made this mistake. Therefore, the Government’s position of purdah must be a stricter one than they might have been able to get away with had they simply amended the existing restrictions rather than taking them all away and having a completely clean base from which they could have done anything.

Mark Spencer: Surely my hon. Friend will recognise that in the period before the referendum our relationship with the EU will still be fluid and there may be matters that need the attention of the Government and that could be crucial to an industry or sector of the economy. If he goes down the route of this period of purdah, the Prime Minister might not be able to do a deal or make an announcement on something of fundamental importance to the economy during that period.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I was making a slightly different point. I was saying that it is going to need to be tougher than the Government would have got away with had they come through with a limited change at an earlier

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stage. The Government said they would scrap the whole of section 125, and there is now suspicion that there was an ulterior motive for that. To allay that suspicion, the Government have to be very specific about the exemptions they want. It might be an exemption to vote in the Council of Ministers, and that would not be unreasonable, but would I give them an exemption to announce from the hilltops that they had lots of money from the EU to build a new factory in a key swing area of the country? No, I would not; I would think that would be about fiddling the result, if they wanted a yes.

Sir Edward Leigh: A lot of nonsense is talked about restricting the Prime Minister in what he can say. I do not remember the Prime Minister being particularly reticent during the general election campaign, and there is no reason why he would need to be reticent during this referendum campaign. If he is leading the no campaign, or more likely the yes campaign, of course he can say exactly what he wants. All we are arguing is that the machinery of government should not be used. We do that perfectly well during general election campaigns, and we know the difference.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend is right and will no doubt recall the 1970 general election when Harold Wilson, as Prime Minister, was not allowed to reveal the trade figures that came out immediately after the general election even though he knew them and they would have been very helpful to him. So there have been cases in which Prime Ministers were prohibited from making announcements on the basis of purdah, and I think it would be quite right to follow them in the context of a European referendum.

It was pointed out earlier that the reason the Government are so worried about this is part of the problem—namely, that the EU is involved in so many aspects of our lives that what they are restricted from doing will be much broader than it would be for a normal referendum. That makes it all the more important that this purdah is strictly observed.

We are arguing about whether the situation in which our lives are organised by the EU should remain or whether we should do something different. If, in the month or six weeks before the referendum, popular announcements about the EU were made but unpopular ones were held back—or vice versa—that would be completely improper.

Dr Murrison: Does my hon. Friend agree that the Executive in this country and the one in Brussels are perfectly capable of restraining themselves for 28 days? Indeed, it happens every year. It is called August.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend is absolutely spot on. The activities of the European Commission come to a grinding halt for at least the whole of August. Perhaps that is the answer to another question—one that I was less exercised about—on the matter of the date. If we were to hold the referendum in the first week of September, the EU would have been shut down throughout August and there would be no great problem with purdah.

I urge the Government to come back with something pretty serious on this. They cannot get away with most of what they want; this needs to be a thorough purdah. I do not know whether they will do this today, but it is open to them—as a sign of goodwill and reassurance—not

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to proceed with the proposal that schedule 1 be the first schedule to the Bill. Instead, they could bring forward a new schedule to deal with this problem on Report. That would leave everyone content, and there would be no great opposition or need to press amendments.

Several hon. Members rose

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): Order. I have been quite relaxed about Members making interventions but I have noticed that they are getting longer, to the point of being beside the point. Before I call the next speaker, I must point out that I shall now be taking a slightly less relaxed view on interventions.

John Redwood: I hope that, when the Government bring the Bill back on Report, they will give further consideration to the question of campaign spending limits. We are all freshly back from an energetic general election campaign, and one of the finest things about the United Kingdom’s traditions that ensure fair and free elections is the fact that we have pretty strict expenditure limits in each constituency. Those of us who were the incumbents fighting to retain our seats were rightly subject to rules stating that we could not use our incumbency in any way, as that would have provided us with an obvious advantage. We could not use our ability to raise more money, for example, because there were strict limits in place.

Those strict limits applied for a five-month period. We had the long campaign period, which was subject to expenditure control, followed by the short campaign period. It is the short campaign period for the referendum that we are talking about today. I believe that it was right to impose the campaign limits early, because political parties are increasingly campaigning well in advance of the general election proper, and it looks as though the referendum campaign will kick in well before the referendum proper. Indeed, there are clearly already stirrings, even before this Bill has passed through the House of Commons.

It is good that we all have to face the challenge from a number of candidates, any one of whom has a reasonable chance of raising the maximum that we are allowed to spend in a given constituency. It is quite a large sum for an individual to raise, but it is quite a modest sum for someone who has a reasonable amount of support or who asks for small or medium-sized donations from a range of people. It is not that difficult for a relatively popular party or candidate to raise the money needed in order to spend right up to the constituency limit, to give them the maximum chance in the challenge.

I understand that the sums will be rather bigger in a national referendum campaign, and that if one side is a lot more popular than the other, that would give it an advantage not only in the vote but in the amount of fundraising it could do. But I do think that, under the current Bill, the very large sums that would be available, because of the way the parties and some of the supporting organisations are thinking, are thoroughly disproportionate. That would give the impression of unfairness, and the British people have a great sense of fairness. Many people on the yes side have a sense of fairness and would prefer it if the referendum campaign were conducted with more equal sums of money, so that the weight and quality of the argument matter more than access to funds and special ways of messaging.

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5.30 pm

My second point is to support those who are talking about the duration of the campaign. The campaign proper could well be limited to four weeks. An awful lot can be said in four weeks. Those with little interest in politics will get rather bored if the referendum campaign dominates the news and media for more than four weeks. Given the natural interest of quite a lot of people in this subject, and the enthusiasm of many of those who wish to campaign on either side, there will, in reality, be a longer period. There should be a long and a short period, as there is in a general election, so that there is proper control of the messages and the money spent in the longer time period, although it would be up to either side, or both, to take the view that they really do want to concentrate their spend and their message in the last four weeks because they might be afraid of overdoing it. I suspect though that they will want a longer period, so we will need some kind of regulation on the longer time period—the full duration of the campaign proper.

My third point is to support those who have raised serious issues about the expenditure of public money, particularly about the expenditure of European Union money. It would be wrong for the European Union to spend any money intervening in a British referendum over whether the United Kingdom stays in the European Union. It is, after all, United Kingdom taxpayers’ money. On current polling, we know that there is a split of opinion, with very substantial bodies of opinion on both sides. People would be very reluctant to see their tax revenue taken by the European Union and then spent on putting out messages and propaganda on just one side of a very contentious referendum.

Mr MacNeil: I must remind the right hon. Gentleman of what happened in the Scottish referendum. The only difference was the way that it was funded. In the United Kingdom, funds are collected centrally and go to London. If the European Union had the same model, they would be collected centrally and go to Brussels and then given out again. The point is that it is taxpayers’ money. In Scotland, we saw our taxpayers’ money come back to the UK Government and used against one side of the referendum campaign.

John Redwood: I quite understand, but I am suggesting something different. I am suggesting that to have a completely fair and independent referendum, there should be much stricter controls over the expenditure of Government money.

Mr MacNeil: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his revelatory tone and words. He said that he wants a stricter and fairer system, so his commentary on the Scottish referendum is instructive and very welcome.

John Redwood: The result in Scotland was pretty conclusive, so the expenditure of Government money was not the crucial thing that made the difference to the result. The result speaks for itself. But we can always learn from past experiences. For my choice, I do not favour the expenditure of public money on interfering in elections and referendums. I am known to be careful with public money anyway, and I would not want the money to be spent on this area. It is for individuals to decide what they wish to do by way of political intervention,

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and they can make their own decisions. If we let them have more of their own money to spend, they may wish to spend it on interventions in elections. That is how I would rather it was done. In this case, it would be particularly counterproductive for the European Union to spend some of our money, which we send to them, on intervening on one side. It would cause enormous resentments. Indeed, the no campaign might even welcome it as it would be a cause in itself which it would make use of if this became a clear use or abuse of public money.

Kate Hoey: I raised the issue of the EU on Second Reading. I had a helpful letter back from the Minister for Europe this week. Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on his final paragraph? He says:

“I would trust the proper diplomatic relationships with Governments and institutions, and encourage them to stick by their duty to respect the right of the British people to take their own decision responsibly.”

I do not feel that I can trust the EU on this very important issue. Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that?

John Redwood: I am afraid that I do share some of the hon. Lady’s worries. I would like to see that clearly stated in writing and as an act of policy from the EU itself. That would probably be much appreciated in many sections of the United Kingdom, so that we can be sure that there would not be clumsy, unwarranted or unwelcome interference. It would be a double irony if the EU were using our money to do it. That is what makes it particularly difficult. UK taxpayers of both views would be paying the money to the EU, but only one side of the argument would be funded by that money.

Mr Chope: Surely the Government could do something on this front. They could ask the European Commission and the European Union not to intervene and not to fund the referendum campaign. They could then get a written undertaking from the Commission not to use European Union funds. That is outside the scope of the Bill, but the Minister could give such an undertaking.

John Redwood: Indeed. I am speaking to amendment 10 tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who seeks to clarify this point and prevent the use or abuse of EU money. I hope that the Minister will respond and that he will have his own proposals on Report. The Electoral Commission has given exceedingly good advice across the board on this referendum. It seemed to suggest that it would not be right for the EU to give money for the campaign, and it would be nice to have a reassurance that the Government share that view and accept the advice of that august body, which is there to guide us.

There is an additional issue with EU money, to which some colleagues have referred. What do we do about the EU money that is routed to bodies or organisations within the UK that choose to make a donation to a referendum campaign? That is another difficulty. As I understand it, such a donation would be perfectly legal because the organisation giving the money would be able to say that it had other sources of money and it was not a direct gift of EU money to the referendum campaign. Such a body may be swayed by the fact that it had had generous access to EU moneys in the past. While one would hope that none of them were donating for that reason, people would suspect that a body in receipt of

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substantial EU moneys in the normal course of business that saw fit to give money to the campaign to stay in would hope that the EU would be better disposed to it when it put in its next application for money.

Sir William Cash: I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was here when we were debating part of this, but the Electoral Commission’s position is that a central principle of the regulatory regime that it supervises is that foreign sources of funding should not have undue influence on our democratic process. It has come to the conclusion that the European Commission does not fall within the list of bodies that can register as a campaigner. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have to get to the bottom of that? It is highly arguable that the European constitutional arrangements are effectively embedded in our own constitutional arrangements by virtue of sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. We need to get this right.

John Redwood: I was present to hear my hon. Friend speak to his amendment, and I am aware of the legal minefield that the provision could represent. That is why I worded my remarks cautiously—I said that I thought it was the view of the Electoral Commission that it would not be appropriate for the EU to spend money on the campaign. As he reminds us, it has made a clear statement about being a principal donor to the campaign, but there are other ways in which it could help, and it might argue that it was a domestic institution for these purposes. It might say that the EU’s writ runs within the UK. There is an office of the EU in London; it might try and route it through the London office. We need to say that that would be unwise. The Minister may think that it is illegal or that it should be impeded in some way. We need clear guidance from the Minister.

I return to the issue of indirect funding of the campaign by grant-in-aid to organisations that are helped or partially funded by the EU. Of course, it is a matter for the referendum campaign to argue over the rights and wrongs of EU funding. I am sure the no campaign will want to say that the money we send to Brussels and which it gives back to our organisations could be given to them directly by the United Kingdom Government if Brussels were not in the way. It could be pointed out that the £11 billion we send to Brussels in tax revenue is spent outside the UK, so, were we to leave, that money would be available for either tax cuts or extra spending in the United Kingdom.

That would be a matter of debate in the referendum, but an issue for the Bill relates to the legality, morality and political wisdom and judgment regarding the point at which an organisation becomes so dependent on EU funding that it has a very strong interest in it. Restrictions or limitations—or at least a declaration of interest—might need to be made if such a body decides to become involved in the referendum campaign. It would be wise to let people know of such a clear financial interest if the body played an important part in the yes campaign.

Sir William Cash: Does my right hon. Friend think it would be possible to have a register of interests? Then, when companies go on the BBC and say, “We don’t want the United Kingdom to leave the EU,” we would know where their money comes from, what their actual policy is and the extent to which they are dominated by the EU system.

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John Redwood: A register of interests would be one way of handling it. It would be quite complicated for large companies, but rather easier for grant-receiving organisations. The issue for companies is rather different. I am all in favour of business people taking an active part in our politics, but they may need to intervene as individuals, because if they are an executive in a very large company that has a broad shareholder base, they may not be speaking for their shareholders on a very political issue. People would ask them, “Is this your private view or are you speaking for the company and has it been tested in a company general meeting?” That is probably a debate for another day. I am all in favour of major business involvement, but unless someone owns the company they have to be careful in associating the company with their own particular views.

The conclusion I wish to put to the Government is that this Bill is extremely welcome, but it is work in progress. These are very complicated areas, because the EU is a unique and powerful institution. In order to have a fair assessment by the British people of its worth or demerits, we need to be very careful and to not in any way trammel our usual belief in independence and fairness when we test the mood of the people. I do not think the Bill quite yet meets that requirement, but I hope that, on Report, Ministers will have better and more detailed answers about how we handle the scale of campaign donations and the period prior to the referendum campaign proper with respect to controls over messages and financing, and that they will be able to address the very vexed subject of how much power, influence, money and messaging the EU itself can inject into what should be a United Kingdom debate.

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) and I want to draw on some of the points he made about amendments 10 and 53.

It is a very poor politician who spends a lot of time talking about his previous speeches, but I would like to refer the House to what I said in this Chamber on 13 January 2014, when we had a lively debate on the Europe for Citizens budget, which we had a right to veto at the time and which involved the funding of a whole host of European pet projects. One such project is the European Movement and, from the very position on which I now stand, the late and much lamented Charles Kennedy made an impassioned plea for us not to cut the funding for the organisation of which he was the president. That relates to the point I want to make: we should be very wary of how organisations that receive European funding will act during the referendum campaign and ask whether they should be regulated in some way.

The preamble of the draft regulations for the Europe for Citizens programme states:

“While there is objectively an added value in being a Union citizen with established rights, the Union does not always highlight in an effective way the link between the solution to a broad range of economic and social problems and the Union’s policies.”

Therefore it wants the organisations that it funds to be very positive in the arguments that they make when they engage with civil society.

The Europe for Citizens budget line, which the European Commission funds, gives the European Movement a very large sum of money. I do not wish to pick on the

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European Movement all the time, but it is a good example of an organisation that receives some money to campaign to present a positive view of Europe, which I know is welcomed by many in this House, and whose funding comes from the European Commission which, I believe, wants to ensure a certain result in the forthcoming referendum.

5.45 pm

Kate Hoey: I have just had a letter from the European Movement signed by the current chair, Lord Kinnock, who worked for the European Commission and will presumably have an EU pension, which he will have to declare. The European Movement has asked us all to join because it wants to campaign to keep the United Kingdom in the EU. That is a classic example of EU money being used directly to further the cause of those who wish to stay in the EU, whatever reform comes about.

Chris Heaton-Harris: The hon. Lady is receiving a lot of letters this week, including one from the Minister for Europe and one from the European Movement. People are obviously interested in her views and she seems to have a great deal of sway on the Labour Benches—if only—as to how the debate will go forward. She is right.

I do not want to pick on the European Movement. I have many friends in the movement. I suppose I should declare an interest as a former Member of the European Parliament, I believe I have a pension that is nestled away out there for my dotage. However, I am very wary of the fact that the European Movement can fall on only one side of this debate, funded by British taxpayers’ money channelled through the European Commission. Will the Minister be able to tidy up the regulations to ensure fairness in the way that taxpayers’ money is spent?

There are a host of non-governmental organisations and some charities—this goes to amendments which the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) and my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) spoke about—to which European funding goes. Those organisations may then feel obliged to take part and push forward their own ideas on one side or the other in a European referendum.

Dr Murrison: Does my hon. Friend agree that the organisations that he is talking about are supranational organisations and therefore do not fall within the scope of the legislation we are debating today? Does he agree that we need to come to some sort of accommodation, as other hon. Members have suggested, with the institutions of the European Union to self-deny some of the actions that they and their organisations may be taking? If they do not, it is likely that some of those actions will be counterproductive and act against what we all want—a free and fair referendum.

Chris Heaton-Harris: I agree entirely. That is why I was attracted by amendment 10 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). The British people are savvy enough to make their own decision in the referendum, based on the arguments presented to them about how their lives will be affected. The choice they make will be theirs and theirs alone. I do not believe that these organisations will have great influence.

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However, now is a good time for us to discuss how we deal with some of the points that have been raised. I want the referendum to be seen to be free and fair, as I believe it will be. This is the ideal time in the process to do that as we have the Bill before us. I am keen for the Minister to be aware of the issues. Maybe there is no need to act. Maybe there is no need to go further than discussing them here today. Perhaps some tidying-up provision could be introduced on Report, though I have no idea what that might be. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone has consulted the Electoral Commission about foreign sources of funding. This is a grey area, with quite a large sum of money going to numerous organisations, NGOs and charities, and it would be nice for us all to know that that money will be spent fairly and not for political purposes in the referendum in the next couple of years.

John Penrose: We have heard an extensive set of contributions in this debate, including from my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins), my hon. Friends the Members for Stone (Sir William Cash) and for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), the hon. Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant), my hon. Friends the Members for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) and for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg)—he was kind enough to say nice things about the constitutional impact of Somerset—my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) and my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris).

I will start by saying a few words about clause 3 in general. I will then speak to the Government amendments before endeavouring to respond to the various points that have been made by colleagues on both sides of the Committee. Clause 3 sets out that part VII of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000—PPERA—applies for the purposes of this referendum. It has been in place since 2000, so it provides a well-established and understood framework for regulating referendums in this country. For example, part VII sets the spending limits for campaigners during the referendum period and the rules on donations.

However, the legislation for two recent referendums—on the voting system in 2011 and on Scottish independence last year—although based on PPERA, also provided examples of how the controls on campaigning and the framework for conducting a referendum could be improved. Where those changes have improved the regulation of referendums, with the support of the Electoral Commission, we have sought to replicate them in the Bill.

Alex Salmond: The Minister is quite right about building on experience to try to augment the PPERA recommendations. If the Government have done that with regard to finance, why did they not do it with regard to purdah?

John Penrose: We have already discussed that, and I understand that promises were made from the Dispatch Box earlier this afternoon by my colleague the Minister for Europe. Further proposals will be brought back to the House in due course, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and other colleagues will be pleased by what is brought back at that point.

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Clause 3 therefore introduces schedules 1 and 2, which make further provision, and it modifies PPERA in relation to the campaigning and financial controls that will apply for the referendum. It also introduces schedule 3, which makes further provision, and it modifies PPERA in relation to the framework for administering the referendum.

Rather than spending a great deal of time on the detail of those schedules, I will move on to the Government amendments and then try to respond to the other amendments in the group, particularly those tabled by colleagues on the Government side of the Committee. The Government have tabled two amendments, which I will briefly explain. Amendment 14 will increase the spending limits for permitted participants at the EU referendum. The limits will apply instead of those provided for by PPERA. The increase takes account of inflation since PPERA was passed in 2000 but goes no further. The changes will apply to the spending limits for all those campaigners who are eligible to become permitted participants on both sides of the debate, including the designated lead organisations and political parties. It should be fair for both sides.

Amendment 15 gives effect to a recommendation of the Electoral Commission. It provides that where campaigners register as permitted participants but do not incur regulated spending, the responsible person must submit to the Electoral Commission a declaration that no regulated expenses were incurred. It will apply only for the purposes of this referendum. It is a technical amendment. Under the current provisions, there is no provision for a nil return. Although that can perhaps be seen as a logical approach in the event of a campaigner not spending, it creates a challenge for the Electoral Commission in undertaking its statutory duties. When a registered campaigner does not submit a spending return after the poll, it is not always clear whether that is an act of non-compliance, or because they have not incurred regulated spending. The amendment will make the situation clearer. Every registered permitted participant will be required to submit a return or declaration of some sort. Failing to do so without reasonable excuse will be a criminal offence. That should help to ensure that the Electoral Commission can focus its attention on clear cases of non-compliance. Given that it applies only to people or organisations that have already registered as campaigning groups, it ensures that transparency will be paramount.

Let me move on to some of the other amendments in the group. I will begin with amendment 9, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone, which a number of colleagues have addressed. The amendment seeks to extend the referendum period from the currently envisaged 10 weeks to up to 16 weeks. Having listened to my hon. Friend’s speech, I think that he is particularly concerned because at the start of any campaign the Electoral Commission needs to go through a process of designating the lead campaigning groups, and in the past there have been great concerns. In fact, the designation process has occasionally lasted for five or six weeks. If that six-week period begins at the start of 10 weeks of referendum campaigning, we will effectively end up with lead campaigning organisations being designated as such, and getting the public funds to which they are entitled, with a period of only four weeks to go before polling day. My hon. Friend rightly pointed out that that might

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put a crimp in the way in which the campaign was run, for both sides, which would not leave enough time to air important issues or make preparations. His proposed solution is to extend the period from 10 weeks to 16 weeks. I suggest a slightly more flexible alternative, which I hope will achieve the same outcome.

The Bill states that Parliament must agree to an affirmative statutory instrument to fix the date of the referendum in law. As my hon. Friend knows, an affirmative SI takes about six weeks to go through Parliament. Therefore, after the announcement of the election date, the House will consider the SI for a period of about six weeks before it approves the date of the referendum, and only then can the 10-week period start. Clearly, that will not help unless the designation of lead campaigning organisations can be done in parallel.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham and others have mentioned, stirrings of campaigns are already under way. Campaigns are already gearing up, and the organisations involved are already co-operating and co-ordinating with each other, although we are at an early stage. I encourage those on both sides of the debate to engage at an early stage with the Electoral Commission, because both sides will, in all probability, start campaigning unofficially long before the eventual official start of the referendum campaign. Because they will be able to start engaging with the Electoral Commission at an early stage, not only will we be able to begin designation six weeks before the beginning of the 10-week period, but we stand a decent chance—with the Electoral Commission’s blessing, of course—of getting through the designation process rather faster than we otherwise could.

Mr Jenkin: To assist the Committee, and indeed the whole House, in the scrutiny of the Bill, will my hon. Friend undertake to produce a d-minus chronology of events that details all the steps between the Government’s decision to proceed with the referendum and the referendum itself? Presumably, that chronology could include the latest possible date for the conclusion of negotiations. We are concerned because some of the Government’s statements suggest that negotiations will conclude after the Government have triggered the referendum process.

John Penrose: I will happily produce a d-minus election schedule. What I will not be able to do, because it has less to do with the Bill, is to say when negotiations might be complete. However, we will be able to work back and produce a schedule that indicates how the process could and should look.

Sir William Cash: The direction of travel is good, because we are interested entirely and exclusively in one thing: not the views of Members of Parliament, but that the choice before the voters is fair. As the Minister knows, the Electoral Commission has supported my proposal. Will he re-engage with me if he has discussions with the Electoral Commission on his new proposal, so that we know which track the commission is going down and what its response is?

John Penrose: I am happy to confirm that we have had discussions with the Electoral Commission—I am sure they will continue—about early or pre-designation, which will be an essential part of the alternative that I

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am suggesting to the hon. Gentleman. That will ensure that the 10-week official referendum period is not eaten into, leaving too short a time for a proper airing of the issues. I know that he is concerned about that.

While I am sure that the recent general election campaign was fascinating in all possible respects to everybody in this Chamber, it is possible, given that it started rather earlier than normal because of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, that in the minds of one or two of our constituents it might have dragged a bit by the end. I am sure we all had cases of knocking on doors when we were out canvassing during the campaign and people saying, “Oh God, I wish the whole thing was all over.” We need to take care not to go to the other extreme—I know that my hon. Friend is not suggesting this—of having an election campaign that is too long. We are already beginning the referendum campaign—it is clearly starting to gear up—and we need to be careful about going too far the other way.

6 pm

Amendment 10 was also tabled by my hon. Friend, who is concerned about, as he put it, the tentacles of Europe reaching ever further into our lives and potentially skewing the result—or skewing the way in which the campaign is done. I shall start by making a very clear statement of principle, which is that I share his concern to make sure that the European Union is not involved in funding things directly. As he said, the European Union says it does not believe that it would be eligible to be a direct donor for the upcoming referendum. I can confirm that even if it thought it was eligible, legally it would not be so, under the terms of PPERA. Not only would it not want to or feel unable to—it would not legally be allowed to, in any case.

My hon. Friend talked about some of the organisations that are allowed to donate. There are very great existing protections to stop external non-British interventions in British elections of all kinds, including this one.

Sir William Cash: The Electoral Commission’s view is that the European Union does not come within these parameters, but will my hon. Friend share with us the legal advice that the Foreign Office is getting? I think he can take it, though, that we shall be looking at this ourselves, because it is so important in terms of the volume and disproportionateness of the funds that will be available. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) said, it is half our money anyway.

John Penrose: My hon. Friend is absolutely right—it is half our money.

I have here the schedule of those who are eligible to donate to the permitted participants under the Act. It is all about UK-based organisations of one kind or another, be they third sector or private sector. Nothing anywhere would allow an organisation like the EU to get involved. The established protections have applied to British elections for quite a few years, and relatively successfully. I do not think that people feel there has been undue influence from organisations abroad in previous elections. The only changes we are making to those protections are, in effect, to make sure that Gibraltarian organisations can, if necessary, be part of the campaign actively or through donations.

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My hon. Friend is aware—he mentioned it, as did a number of other colleagues—that the amendment as currently drafted probably has some rather serious technical flaws. He acknowledged that when he was talking about its underlying principles. Those flaws would, in particular, prevent a number of legitimate potential participants in the campaign from participating. For example, any farmer who had received payments under the common agricultural policy would potentially be excluded, as would any firm that had done business on the basis of trading with the European Union Commission. Civil engineering firms that have built roads in France, or indeed in this country, that have been paid for, even in part, by our money routed via the EU, would find themselves caught. In addition, the amendment does not have a time limit, so it would not only apply to the past couple of years but could affect anybody who has ever had any of this money since the EU was first started. Of course, that would be incredibly wide-ranging and could count out some entirely legitimate campaigning organisations or people who wanted to be involved.

Strong protections are in place, and we would need to be careful about the issue raised by the amendment.

Sir William Cash rose—

John Penrose: I was about to move on, but my hon. Friend wants to make one final point.

Sir William Cash: The BBC, of course, has been receiving money from the European Union, so my hon. Friend is right that I am concerned about that point.

John Penrose: My hon. Friend has confirmed my view, and I am sure that we will continue these discussions.

I move on to amendment 53, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. I think his intention is to ensure equal force of arms on both sides of the debate. I was starting from a slightly different presumption: I think that both sides will be pretty well funded—there are well funded and strong views on both sides. There is no tradition in this country of overall, global limits on total campaign spending. As colleagues, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham, have mentioned, there are individual limits on constituency spends and national limits on individual political party spends. However, there is no overall global limit on the total amount that can be put behind a movement or campaign because other third party campaigning organisations, even after the closer regulation following the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014, can also contribute to the campaign behind a particular cause. As there is no limit to the number of organisations that can contribute, there is de facto no overall limit on the total that can be spent.

Opposition colleagues may dislike this example, but it may have resonance on the Government Benches. It is possible and entirely legal, under the right conditions, for trade unions to contribute to and campaign strongly in elections. There are constraints on what they can do, but it is entirely open to one union or 10 to contribute. If 10 contribute, the money that unions could spend goes up by a factor of 10. There is no overall global limit on the amount of money that traditionally can be spent in British elections, although there have been individual limits in specific constituencies.

16 Jun 2015 : Column 276

I caution my hon. Friend a little. The hon. Member for Glenrothes rightly pointed out that people get enthused, excited and involved in political debate at different points and in different ways. If a campaign on either side captures the popular imagination and engages people, people who were not involved at the start can decide to become involved part of the way through. My hon. Friend’s amendment would limit the number of people to only those who were organised and enrolled at the start; once the maximum number had been reached, the gates would close and no one else could enrol.

It is an entirely unworthy thought, I know, but the Chief Whip and I suggest that one side could grab all the slots of eligible campaigners on the other side and then do absolutely nothing with those slots. That would effectively kibosh the other side. I understand my hon. Friend’s attempt to equalise force of arms, but I am afraid that things will not work as he has described. The amendment would also run counter to some deep-rooted, fundamental principles about how British democracy has worked.

Sir Edward Leigh rose—

John Penrose: I give way very briefly, but then I must make progress and finish.

Sir Edward Leigh: Although my hon. Friend believes that my amendment is not the way forward, as it would limit the number of participants, he understands the general view that there should be some sort of equality of force of arms. I remind him of the point that I made: during the 1975 referendum, the yes campaign outspent the no campaign by 10:1. Given that the major parties generally have the funding and are allowed to spend it, if the yes campaign had £17 million to spend and the no campaign had only £8 million, would my hon. Friend agree that the Government would have to think about that, take it away and worry about it?

John Penrose: I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns. At the risk of quoting one of the Opposition Members, I notice that none of us was that concerned when there was a difference in the force of arms at the recent general election on a party political basis, but I appreciate my hon. Friend’s concerns. I do not think that the amounts of money raised on each side will be as unequal as he fears, but I may be underestimating either the yes or the no campaign.

Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex tabled a number of amendments that would remove bodies incorporated by royal charter and charitable incorporated associations from the list of those eligible. He specifically asked me to give him this reassurance, and I am very happy to do so: nothing in this Bill will change anything to do with charity law. Charities are already subject to some very severe and thorough crimps on what they can do when it comes to political campaigning. There are only a very small number of occasions when they are allowed to get involved, and even then, they are very closely scrutinised by the Charity Commission. That will continue: nothing in the Bill will alter any of that.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

16 Jun 2015 : Column 277

Schedule 1

Campaigning and financial controls

Amendments made: 14, page 12, line 4, at end insert—

“( ) Paragraph 1(2) of that Schedule (limit on expenses incurred by permitted participants during referendum period) has effect for the purposes of the referendum as if—

(a) in paragraph (a) (designated organisations) for ‘£5 million’ there were substituted ‘£7 million’,

(b) in paragraph (b) (registered parties that are not designated organisations)—

(i) in sub-paragraph (i) for ‘£5 million’ there were substituted ‘£7 million’,

(ii) in sub-paragraph (ii) for ‘£4 million’ there were substituted ‘£5.5 million’,

(iii) in sub-paragraph (iii) for ‘£3 million’ there were substituted ‘£4 million’,

(iv) in sub-paragraph (iv) for ‘£2 million’ there were substituted ‘£3 million’, and

(v) in sub-paragraph (v) for ‘£500,000’ there were substituted ‘£700,000’, and

(c) in paragraph (c) (certain other persons and bodies) for ‘£500,000’ there were substituted ‘£700,000’.”

This amendment modifies, for the purposes of the European Union referendum only, the spending limits for permitted participants in paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 14 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 to take account of inflation.

Amendment 15, page 14, line 38, at end insert—

“Declaration where no referendum expenses incurred in referendum period

21A For the purposes of the referendum, the following section is to be treated as inserted after section 124 of the 2000 Act—

‘124A Declaration where no expenses in referendum period

(1) Subsection (2) applies where, in relation to a referendum to which this Part applies—

(a) a permitted participant incurs no referendum expenses during the referendum period (and no such expenses are incurred on behalf of that participant during that period), and

(b) accordingly, the responsible person in relation to the permitted participant is not required to make a return under section 120 or a declaration under section 120A.

(2) The responsible person must, within 3 months beginning with the end of the referendum period—

(a) make a declaration under this section, and

(b) deliver that declaration to the Commission.

(3) A declaration under this section is a declaration that no referendum expenses were incurred by or on behalf of the permitted participant during the referendum period.

(4) The responsible person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, that person fails to comply with the requirements of subsection (2).

(5) If a person who is the responsible person in relation to a permitted participant knowingly or recklessly makes a false declaration in purported compliance with the requirement in subsection (2)(a), that person commits an offence.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to a fine;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale;

(c) on summary conviction in Gibraltar, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the Gibraltar standard scale.

(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable—

16 Jun 2015 : Column 278

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine, or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine, or to both;

(c) on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(d) on summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(e) on summary conviction in Gibraltar, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the Gibraltar standard scale, or to both.

(8) The reference in subsection (7)(b) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months in relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

(9) In this section “the Gibraltar standard scale” means the standard scale set out in Part A of Schedule 9 to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

(10) Schedule 19C (civil sanctions), and any order under Part 5 of that Schedule, have effect as if the offence under subsection (4) of this section were an offence prescribed in an order under that Part.’”—(John Penrose.)

This amendment requires permitted participants who do not incur referendum expenses to submit a declaration of that fact to the Electoral Commission within three months of the end of the referendum period.

Amendment proposed: 11, page 17, line 37, leave out paragraph 25 and insert—

“25 (1) Section 125 of the 2000 Act (restriction of publication etc of promotional material by central and local government etc) applies in relation to the referendum during the referendum period with the following modification.

(2) Section 125(2)(a) of the 2000 Act has effect for the purposes of the referendum as if, after ‘Crown’, there were inserted ‘including ministers in the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Her Majesty‘s Government of Gibraltar’.”—(Sir William Cash.)

The purpose of the amendment is to apply the “purdah” arrangements that govern ministerial and official announcements, visits and publicity during general elections to the campaign period before the referendum.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 97, Noes 288.

Division No. 15]


6.11 pm


Afriyie, Adam

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Arkless, Richard

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Baron, Mr John

Black, Ms Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Boswell, Philip

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Sir William

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cowan, Ronnie

Crawley, Angela

Davies, Philip

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Dorries, Nadine

Drax, Richard

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Goldsmith, Zac

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Hendry, Drew

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jones, rh Mr David

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Law, Chris

Leigh, Sir Edward

Loughton, Tim

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Main, Mrs Anne

Mc Nally, John

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

McLaughlin, Anne

McPartland, Stephen

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Mullin, Roger

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Hara, Brendan

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Paterson, Steven

Redwood, rh John

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Rosindell, Andrew

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Simpson, David

Stephens, Chris

Stewart, Bob

Stringer, Graham

Thewliss, Alison

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Turner, Mr Andrew

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Corri

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr Steve Baker


Mr Christopher Chope


Adams, Nigel

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

Davies, Mims

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Mak, Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton


Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

16 Jun 2015 : Column 279

16 Jun 2015 : Column 280

16 Jun 2015 : Column 281

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 2 and 3 agreed to.

New Clause 3

Restriction on Publications etc