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Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013

Part 4: Publications

183.Paragraph 26 provides that, for the 28 day period ending with the date of the referendum, the Scottish Ministers and certain public authorities in Scotland cannot publish any material providing general information about the referendum, dealing with issues raised by the question to be voted on in the referendum, putting any arguments for or against a particular answer to the question to be voted on, or which is designed to encourage voting in the referendum. However, this rule does not apply to information made available following a specific request; specified material published by or under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body; any information from the Electoral Commission, a designated organisation or the Chief Counting Officer or any other counting officer; or to any published information about how the poll is to be held.

184.Under paragraph 27, printed material associated with the referendum cannot be published unless it meets the following requirements:

  • If the material is contained on a single side of a printed page, then the name and address of the printer, the promoter and the person on behalf of whom the material is being published must be on the face of the document

  • If the printed material is not on a single sided page, then those names and addresses must appear on the first or last page of the document

  • If the printed material is a newspaper or periodical advertisement, then the name and address of the printer of the newspaper or periodical must appear on its first or last page and the names and address of both the promoter and the person on behalf of whom the material is being printed must be in the advertisement.

185.The paragraph also prevents any non-printed material associated with the referendum, such as material on the internet, from being published unless it includes the name and address of the person on behalf of whom the material is being published. There is an exception where it is not practical to comply with these requirements; an example might be very small advertisements.

186.If any printed material is published without meeting the requirements, then the promoter of the material, the printer, and any person who publishes it are all guilty of an offence. If any non-printed material fails to meet the requirements, then the promoter of the material and publisher are guilty of an offence. In both cases, it is a defence to show that circumstances beyond the person’s control caused the offence to be committed and that they took all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence.

187.Paragraph 28 applies the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 in relation to the display on any site of an advertisement relating specifically to the referendum as they have effect in relation to the display of an advertisement relating specifically to parliamentary election.

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