The Concordats and the Pledge – Restrictions 28 Days Before A Referendum

(2)Subject to subsection (3), no material to which this section applies shall be published during the relevant period by or on behalf of— (a)any Minister of the Crown

I’ve highlighted the above extract from the legislation because as reported in the Guardian today:

The leaders of the UK’s three main political parties have signed a pledge to give more powers to Scotland if it rejects independence.

The letter, signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, appears on the front page of Tuesday’s Daily Record newspaper. It promises “extensive new powers” for the Scottish parliament “delivered by the process and to the timetable agreed” by the three parties, and says the Scottish parliament will be made permanent

What follows below is an extract from the framework for the referendum agreed between the two Governments and the restriction on introducing new elements in the 28 days before the referendum.

I got this reference from a Green Party supporter I spoke with yesterday – so hat tip to him.


Government activity during the 28 days before the referendum
29. It is customary for there to be a period before elections in the UK, during which Ministers and other public bodies refrain from publishing material that would have a bearing on the election. Section 125 of PPERA sets out the restrictions that apply to Ministers and public bodies in the 28 days preceding referendums held under that Act. Both governments recognise the importance of respecting the 28-day period prior to a referendum, in the same way that both governments already respect each other’s pre-election period for Parliamentary elections. The Scottish Government will set out details of restricted behaviour for Scottish Ministers and devolved public bodies in the Referendum Bill to be introduced into the Scottish Parliament. These details will be based on the restrictions set out in PPERA. The UK Government has committed to act according to the same PPERA-based rules during the 28 day period.

Concordats on Referendum


Chapter III
Controls on Publications

125 Restriction on publication etc. of promotional material by central and local government etc.

(1)This section applies to any material which—

(a)provides general information about a referendum to which this Part applies;

(b)deals with any of the issues raised by any question on which such a referendum is being held;

(c)puts any arguments for or against any particular answer to any such question; or

(d)is designed to encourage voting at such a referendum.

(2)Subject to subsection (3), no material to which this section applies shall be published during the relevant period by or on behalf of—

(a)any Minister of the Crown, government department or local authority; or

(b)any other person or body whose expenses are defrayed wholly or mainly out of public funds or by any local authority.

(3)Subsection (2) does not apply to—

(a)material made available to persons in response to specific requests for information or to persons specifically seeking access to it;

(b)anything done by or on behalf of the Commission or a person or body designated under section 108 (designation of organisations to whom assistance is available);

(c)the publication of information relating to the holding of the poll; or

(d)the issue of press notices;

and subsection (2)(b) shall not be taken as applying to the British Broadcasting Corporation or Sianel Pedwar Cymru.
(4)In this section—

(a)“publish” means make available to the public at large, or any section of the public, in whatever form and by whatever means (and “publication” shall be construed accordingly);

(b)“the relevant period”, in relation to a referendum, means the period of 28 days ending with the date of the poll.

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000


  1. timethief says:

    We have been through this in Canada and I’m watching the issue very closely to see how the separation vote goes in Scotland.


    1. Yes, the Quebec referendum has been referred to quite a lot here – about how the vote swung one way and then the other in the closing days.

      How have the Scottish YES and NO campaigns been characterised in Canada?


  2. What is the word on the street? Yes or No. Often public perception is more accurate than press. It was so in the last elections, here in India.
    BTW today it is part of the news, here in India as well. But no predictions are being made. Nor any debate or discussions are taking place.
    All the best.


    1. Thanks,

      We had two or three NO leaflets put through our door and more than a dozen YES leaflets. The YES campaign has been much more of a people’s campaign.

      All of the earlier polls predicted the outcome on the basis of a certain expected turnout. If that turnout is higher, then the formula used to predict the outcome does not work.

      Now even the polls say the vote is too close to predict.

      Liked by 1 person

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