Conservatives unveil draft EU referendum bill

The Conservative party has unveiled a draft European Union Referendum bill. William Hague, foreign secretary said:

David Cameron has said if he is Prime Minister, there will be an In-Out referendum in the next Parliament and that in this Parliament, we will look at all options to underline the fact that our commitment to the referendum is absolute.

So today the Conservative Party is publishing a draft bill to legislate for an in-out referendum before the end of 2017. We will examine all opportunities to bring this bill before Parliament, including as a private members’ bill.

Full text of the draft bill:

Make provision for the holding of a referendum in the United Kingdom on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

1. Referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union

(1) A referendum is to be held on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union.
(2) The referendum must be held before 31 December 2017.
(3) The Secretary of State shall by order appoint the day on which the referendum is to be held.
(4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(5) The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is— “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?”
(6) In Wales, a Welsh version of the question is also to appear on the ballot papers, as provided by order.

2. Entitlement to vote in the referendum

(1) Those entitled to vote in the referendum are—
(a) the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency, and
(b) the persons who, on that date, are disqualified by reason of being peers from voting as electors at parliamentary elections.

3. Conduct of the referendum and further provisions

(1) The Secretary of State shall by order provide for the rules in accordance with which the referendum is to be conducted.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order make further provisions about the referendum.
(3) An order under this section may make provision modifying or amending this Act or another enactment.
(4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

4. Interpretation

(1) In this Act—
• “enactment” includes—
(a) any provision of an Act,
(b) any provision of, or of any instrument made under, an Act of the Scottish Parliament,
(c) any provision of, or of any instrument made under, Northern Ireland legislation, and
(d) any provision of subordinate legislation (within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978);
• “the referendum” means the referendum under section 1.

5. Expenditure

(1) There shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament-
(a) Any expenditure of the Secretary of State in consequence of this Act; and
(b) Any increase attributable to this Act in the sums which under any other Act are payable out of money so provided.

6. Short title

(1) This Act may be cited as the European Union (Referendum) Act 2013