The referendum on further powers for the National Assembly for Wales has moved a step closer following the approval of the referendum Order and associated Orders by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The approval by both Houses means the Secretary of State will now submit the Orders to be made by Her Majesty in Council in December.
Mrs Gillan said: “The referendum on further powers for the National Assembly for Wales has moved a step closer. Parliament has approved the referendum Order and associated Orders, which will now be considered by Her Majesty in Council at the Privy Council’s next meeting in December.
_“_I am pleased the culmination of months of hard work between the Welsh Office and the Welsh Assembly Government has meant that subject to Her Majesty in Council’s approval there will be a referendum on the Assembly’s powers on March 3, next year. It will also enable the Welsh Assembly Government to deliver its _One Wales _commitment to hold the referendum before the Assembly elections in May next year.
Mrs Gillan added: “I have always been committed to giving the people of Wales the opportunity to decide in a referendum whether they want the Assembly to have these further powers. We are one step closer to meeting that commitment and it is only right and proper for the people of Wales to have their say in March.”
The Welsh Referendum Order was approved by the National Assembly for Wales on 9 November. Subject to approval of the Order to be made by Her Majesty in Council, the referendum process will commence before Christmas.
The referendum related Orders that have now been approved by both Houses of Parliament are The draft Referendum Order (National Assembly for Wales Referendum (Assembly Act Provisions) (Referendum Question, Date of Referendum, Etc.) Order 2010 ) The draft Expenses Limits Order (National Assembly for Wales Referendum (Assembly Act Provisions) (Limit on Referendum Expenses Etc.) Order 2010) The draft Schedule 7 Order (National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) ( Amendment of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006) Order 2010)
The first two of these Orders make provision on the referendum question and date, arrangements for running the referendum, and limits on campaigners’ expenditure. The third updates Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 - the Schedule that lists the subjects on which the Assembly could legislate in the event of a “Yes” vote in the referendum. The changes update the Schedule to take account of the powers the Assembly has gained since the Schedule was last updated in 2007.
The draft referendum and Schedule 7 Orders were approved by the National Assembly for Wales on 9 November, and as they have now been approved by both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State for Wales will submit them to the Privy Council for approval at their next meeting. She will herself make the Expenses Limits Order.
Subject to approval at Privy Council, the referendum period is expected to start on 16 December. As soon as the referendum period starts, those wishing to campaign and spend a substantial amount of money (£10,000 or more) will be able to apply to the Electoral Commission to be registered as permitted participants, whose expenditure will then be regulated. Permitted participants will also have five weeks in which to apply to become the lead Yes or No campaign organisation. The Electoral Commission must designate lead organisations on both sides of the campaign, or not at all. If designated, the lead Yes and No campaigns will be eligible for some financial and other assistance. The amount of financial assistance available is for the Electoral Commission to decide.
For more information on how the referendum will be run, and on the rules applying to those wishing to campaign in the referendum, please refer to the Electoral Commission’s website: www.electoral commission.org.uk