Choosing Scotland's Future: A National Conversation: Independence and Responsibility in the Modern World

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Annex B Draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill

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Referendum (Scotland) Bill

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for the holding of a referendum in Scotland on the proposal to negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom to achieve independence for Scotland.

1 Referendum on independence negotiations

(1) On ( insert date), a referendum is to be held in Scotland on whether the Scottish Government should negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom to achieve independence for Scotland.

(2) The propositions to be voted on in the referendum and the front of the ballot paper to be used for that purpose are to be in the form set out in schedule 1.

(3) Those entitled to vote in the referendum are the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a local government election in any electoral area in Scotland.

(4) But an alteration in a register of electors under section 13A(2) (alteration of registers) or 57 (registration appeals) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (c. 2) does not have effect for the purposes of the referendum unless it is made before the start of the period of 11 days ending with the date of the referendum.

(5) The Scottish Ministers must appoint a Chief Counting Officer.

(6) The Chief Counting Officer must appoint a counting officer for each local government area.

(7) Each counting officer must-

(a) conduct the counting of votes cast in the area for which the officer is appointed in accordance with paragraph 9 of schedule 2 and any directions given by the Chief Counting Officer, and

(b) certify the number of ballot papers counted by the officer and the number of votes cast for each proposition.

(8) The Chief Counting Officer must certify-

(a) the total number of ballot papers counted, and

(b) the total number of votes cast for each proposition,

for the whole of Scotland.

(9) Schedule 2 makes further provision about the referendum and its conduct.

2 Legal proceedings

No court may entertain any proceedings for questioning the number of ballot papers counted or votes cast as certified by the Chief Counting Officer or by a counting officer appointed in accordance with section 1(6).

3 Short title

The short title of this Act is the Referendum (Scotland) Act.

SCHEDULE 1
(introduced by section 1(2))

FORM OF BALLOT PAPER

The Scottish Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Scottish Government's proposal to negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom to achieve independence for Scotland:

Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box

I AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with
the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an
independent state.

OR

I DO NOT AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a
settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland
becomes an independent state.

SCHEDULE 2
(introduced by section 1(9))

CONDUCT OF THE REFERENDUM ETC.

1 The provisions of this schedule have effect in relation to the referendum under section 1.

Time

2 (1) In calculating any period of time for the purposes of any provision of, or applied by or under, this Act, the following days are to be disregarded.

(2) The days are-

(a) a Saturday or Sunday, and

(b) a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 (c. 80) in Scotland.

Advertisements

3 The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 (S.I. 1984/467) have effect in relation to the display on any site of an advertisement relating specifically to the referendum as they have effect in relation to the display of an advertisement relating specifically to an election for the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Premises used for referendum purposes

4 In relation to premises, section 98 (premises not affected for rates) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (c. 2) has effect as if the reference to public meetings in furtherance of a person's candidature at an election included a reference to public meetings promoting a particular result in the referendum.

Returning officers and counting officers

5 (1) Functions conferred by or under this schedule on the returning officer are to be exercised in each local government area by the person who, under section 41 (local government elections in Scotland) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (c. 2) is, or may discharge the functions of, the returning officer at an election of councillors for that area.

(2) A returning officer may, in writing, appoint one or more persons to discharge all or any of the returning officer's functions.

(3) It is the returning officer's general duty at a referendum to do all such acts and things as may be necessary for effectually conducting the referendum in the manner provided by or under this schedule.

6 The council for a local government area must place the services of its officers at the disposal of any person who is acting as returning officer or counting officer in relation to that area.

7 A counting officer may, in writing, appoint one or more persons to discharge all or any of the counting officer's functions.

Hours of polling

8 The hours of polling are between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Counting of votes etc

9 (1) A counting officer must, in accordance with any directions given by the Chief Counting Officer, appoint persons to observe the counting of the votes and the verification of the ballot paper accounts.

(2) No person may attend the counting of votes for any local government area unless the person is-

(a) a counting officer for that area or a person appointed by such a counting officer by virtue of this schedule,

(b) the Chief Counting Officer,

(c) the member of the Scottish Parliament for a constituency wholly or partly within that area,

(d) a member of the Scottish Parliament for a region which that area is wholly or partly within,

(e) the member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for a constituency wholly or partly within that area,

(f) an observer appointed by the counting officer for that area under sub-paragraph (1), or

(g) permitted by the counting officer for that area to attend the count.

(3) A counting officer must give observers such reasonable facilities for observing the proceedings, and all such information with respect to them, as the officer can give them consistently with the orderly conduct of the proceedings and the discharge of the counting officer's duties in connection with them.

(4) Before a counting officer makes a certification under section 1(7)(b) or makes any public announcement as to the result of the count, the officer shall consult the Chief Counting Officer who may direct the officer to recount the ballot papers.

10 A counting officer must, as soon as possible after the Chief Counting Officer has made the certification required by section 1(8), forward to the Scottish Ministers-

(a) the packets of ballot papers in the counting officer's possession, and

(b) such other documents and information as may be required by virtue of an order under paragraph 11(1),

endorsing on each packet a description of its contents and the name of the area for which the counting officer was appointed.

11 (1) The Scottish Ministers may by order made by statutory instrument make further provision about the referendum.

(2) An order under sub-paragraph (1) may, in particular-

(a) apply (with or without modifications) any enactment,

(b) make provision (in addition to that in section 1(2) and schedule 1) about the ballot paper,

(c) specify documents and information to be forwarded to the Scottish Ministers by a counting officer under paragraph 10, and

(d) make provision for the creation of offences.

(3) An order under sub-paragraph (1) may not be made unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the order has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, the Scottish Parliament.