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Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013

Part 2: Permitted participants and designated organisations

154.Paragraph 2 of schedule 4 provides that if an individual or an organisation (including a political party) wishes to spend more than £10,000 (a limit set by schedule 4, paragraph 18) on campaigning, they will have to declare to the Electoral Commission that they wish to be a ‘permitted participant’ and identify the outcome they will campaign for at the referendum. Paragraph 2 also sets out the criteria that individuals and bodies must fulfil to be eligible to become permitted participants.

155.Paragraph 3 sets out the requirements for the declarations. Declarations made by a registered political party must be signed by the responsible officers of the party (usually the treasurer) or in the case of a minor party (one that contests only one or more parish or community election in England and Wales) it must include the name of the person who will be responsible for the party’s compliance with the referendum campaign rules.

156.Declarations made by individuals wishing to become permitted participants must be signed by the individual and give their full name and home address.

157.Declarations made by other organisations, known as ‘qualifying bodies’ must be signed by the secretary or similar office bearer of the body and must include the name and address of the organisation, including, in the case of a company, its registered number.

158.Paragraph 4 prohibits a responsible person for a permitted participant from making a declaration under paragraph 2 by or on behalf of another permitted participant. If an individual is a permitted participant and also treasurer of a registered party other than a minor party, he or she ceases to be a permitted participant if the party registers as a permitted participant. A declaration by a qualifying body or minor party will be considered not to satisfy the requirements of paragraph 3(1)(b) or 3(3)(a)(ii) to notify who is the responsible person for a permitted participant if the intended responsible person is already a responsible person for another permitted participant or a permitted participant in his or her own right.

159.Paragraph 5 places a duty on the Electoral Commission to create and maintain a register of declarations made by registered parties, individuals and other organisations who wish to become permitted participants in the referendum. The register must not include the home address of an individual who has made a declaration.

160.Paragraphs 6 and 7 provide that a permitted participant may apply to the Electoral Commission to be the principal campaign organisation representing one of the outcomes of the referendum. These permitted participants are called ‘designated organisations’ and have a higher campaign spending limit (full limits are set out in paragraph 19). Paragraph 7 specifies the form that applications must take and sets out the timetable for applications and for the Electoral Commission’s decision. It makes clear that even where an application has been made only in respect of one outcome, the Electoral Commission should make the designation provided they are satisfied that the applicant is genuinely representative of those campaigning for that outcome. The Commission may designate an organisation in relation to one or both outcomes.

161.Under paragraph 8, designated organisations are entitled to use school rooms or meeting rooms in publicly maintained buildings for public campaign meetings during the four-week period before the referendum is held.

162.Paragraph 9 requires the designated organisation to contact the education authority in advance if they wish to use a school room and entitles them to inspect a list of the rooms that are available for them to use.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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