Electoral Commission to open registration for EU Referendum campaigners
Groups and individuals intending to campaign in the EU Referendum will be able to register with the Electoral Commission from 1 February.
The Government has announced that the provisions of the European Union Referendum Act (the "Act"), which received Royal Assent on 17 December, will be commenced on 1 February. This means that individuals and organisations that plan to spend more than £10,000 promoting an outcome during the referendum period will be able to register with the Commission.
Campaigners should also start recording all donations received and loans entered into on or after 1 February 2016 for referendum campaigning that are over £7,500 because these will be reportable by registered campaigners in pre-poll reports. Spending on referendum campaigning before the start of the referendum period does not count towards a campaigner's spending limit. Once registered, campaigners must follow the rules on checking permissibility of donations and loans before they accept them.
Bob Posner, Director of Party and Electoral Finance & Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission said:
"Campaigners are central to the referendum and it is important that their sources of funding and spending are transparent to voters. Having these provisions in place is part of enabling this."
The Government will have to make regulations to provide further details on the rules for campaigners, including setting the date of the referendum, the length of the referendum period, the timing for the designation process and the schedule of pre-poll reports.
The Commission will monitor the development of the remaining secondary legislation required for the referendum. When these are laid in Parliament for approval an updated assessment of progress and readiness for the referendum will be provided by the Commission to follow the one produced at Royal Assent of the Act, and we will identify any specific issues associated with the proposed regulations at that point.
For more information please contact:
Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours 07789 920414
Notes to editors
1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK's democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
2. The Electoral Commission has specific responsibilities and functions in relation to the delivery and regulation of referendums held under PPERA, which applies to any referendum Bill brought before the UK Parliament unless specifically stated otherwise. For more information see our website.
3. Registering as a campaigner gives campaigners:
- a spending limit above £10,000
- access to the electoral register to help your campaign within the UK and Gibraltar
- the right to appoint agents (i.e. representatives) to attend postal vote opening sessions, polling stations and the counting of votes
- responsibility for recording and reporting certain donation, loans and referendum spending
4. The permissibility rules provide that funding can only be accepted by referendum campaigners from certain sources connected to the UK, and, in the case of the EU referendum, Gibraltar. A full list of the categories of eligible individuals and organisations can be found here.
5. The commencement of the Act does not provide for the referendum to happen. Several pieces of secondary legislation – including regulations specifying the date of polling day for the referendum - must be laid, debated and approved by the UK Parliament before the referendum can take place.