House of Commons Library

Government leaflet on the EU Referendum

Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Government has published a leaflet setting out its recommendation ahead of the referendum that the UK should remain a member of the EU; the leaflet will be delivered to every household in the UK. An e-petition critical of the Government's decision to publish the leaflet has received over 200,000 signatures and will be debated by the House of Commons on 9 May 2016.

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What is the leaflet about?

The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be held on 23 June 2016. The Government has published a leaflet setting out its recommendation that the UK should remain a member of the EU; this leaflet will be distributed to every household in the UK.

The cost of the leaflet

The cost of publishing and distributing the leaflet will be £9.3 million.

Reaction to the publication of the leaflet and the e-petition

Brexit campaigners have expressed anger that public money was been used to fund the leaflet but the Government has said that it was entirely legitimate for it to make the case for staying in the EU and there was no legal reason why it could not do so.

An e-petition about the EU leaflet has attracted over 200,000 signatures and the petition will be debated by the House of Commons in Westminster Hall on 9 May 2016.

Publications by the designated lead campaigns

On 13 April 2016 the Electoral Commission designated the In Campaign (Britain Stronger in Europe) and Vote Leave as the lead campaign organisations for the referendum. The lead campaigners are entitled to certain benefits including a higher spending limit (£7 million), a free mail shot to every voter, referendum campaign broadcasts and public funding (up to £600,000 for the administration of the campaign). Library Briefing Paper, The EU Referendum Campaign gives further information.

The designated lead campaigners will also each get a dedicated page to put their case in the public information booklet that the Electoral Commission will distribute to all households in the UK. The booklet will also include a link to the lead campaigners’ websites.

The 1975 EEC referendum

During the 1975 EEC Referendum campaign, both the ‘Yes’ campaign (Britain in Europe) and the ‘No’ campaign (National Referendum Campaign) each received a Government subsidy of £125,000. In addition, the Government paid for the distribution of the ‘No’ campaign’s leaflets.

The Venice Commission's code of good practice on referendums

The Briefing Paper also provides information about the Venice Commission’s Code of good practice on referendums The Venice Commission, (also known as the European Commission for Democracy through Law), is the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional law. The Code outlines the principles underpinning referendums and the conditions for implementing those principles including guidelines on the specific rules applicable to a referendum.

 

 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7579

Authors: Isobel White; Neil Johnston

Topic: Elections

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