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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Section 109 : Applications for designation under section 108

208.Section 109 sets out the procedure and timetable for applications for designation and the basis on which the Commission is to determine such applications. The whole process, which commences at the start of the referendum period determined in accordance with section 102, takes a maximum of six weeks (four weeks for applications to be submitted and two weeks for the Commission to come to a decision), although there is a power (in subsection (6)) to vary the timetable by order.

209.The criterion for determining applications (namely, “whichever of the applicants appears to [the Electoral Commission] to represent to the greatest extent those campaigning for that outcome”) is similar to that employed in respect of the 1975 referendum where the Government undertook to identify two organisations “which adequately represent” each side of the question (see paragraph 40 of the White Paper ‘Referendum on United Kingdom Membership of the European Community’, February 1975, Cmnd 5925). Under subsection (5) it is possible for the Commission to decide that none of the applicant organisations in relation to a particular outcome qualifies should be designated. Where that is the case, section 108 (2) would require that no organisation be designated in respect of any of the possible outcomes of the referendum.

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