Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020

Publication Date:January 01, 2020
 
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Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020

2020 asp 2

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision about the holding of referendums throughout Scotland.

[29 January 2020]

Referendums

Referendums

S-1 Referendums to which this Act applies

1 Referendums to which this Act applies

(1) This Act applies to any referendum held throughout Scotland in pursuance of provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

(2) In this Act—

(a)

references to “the referendum” mean any referendum held—

(i) in pursuance of any provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(ii) on one or more questions specified in or in accordance with any such provision,

(b)

“question” includes proposition (and “answer” accordingly includes response).

S-2 Referendum questions

2 Referendum questions

(1) Subsections (2) and (3) apply where—

(a)

provision is made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament for the holding of a referendum throughout Scotland, and

(b)

the wording of any question in the referendum is to be specified in subordinate legislation.

(2) If the subordinate legislation is subject to the affirmative procedure, the Scottish Ministers must consult the Electoral Commission on the wording of the question before a draft of any instrument containing the subordinate legislation is laid before the Scottish Parliament.

(3) If the subordinate legislation is subject to the negative procedure, the Scottish Ministers must consult the Electoral Commission on the wording of the question before making the subordinate legislation.

(4) Subsection (5) applies where a Bill is introduced to the Scottish Parliament which—

(a)

provides for the holding of a referendum throughout Scotland, and

(b)

specifies the wording of the question.

(5) The Electoral Commission must—

(a)

consider the wording of the question, and

(b)

publish a statement of any views of the Commission as to the intelligibility of the question—

(i) as soon as reasonably practicable after the Bill is introduced, and

(ii) in such manner as they may determine.

(6) Where the Bill or subordinate legislation specifies not only the question but also any statement which is to precede the question on the ballot paper at the referendum, any reference in subsection (2), (3) or, as the case may be, (5) to the question is to be read as a reference to the question and the statement taken together.

(7) This section does not apply in relation to a question or statement if the Electoral Commission have, in the validity period—

(a)

published a report setting out their views as to the intelligibility of the question or statement, or

(b)

recommended the wording of the question or statement.

(8) In subsection (7), the “validity period” means—

(a)

the period composed of the session of the Scottish Parliament in which the proposed date of the referendum falls, or

(b)

if subsection (9) applies, the period composed of the session of the Scottish Parliament in which the proposed date of the referendum falls and the preceding session.

(9) This subsection applies if the Scottish Parliament, on a motion by a member of the Scottish Government, resolves that the validity period mentioned in subsection (8)(b) should apply in relation to the question or statement.

(10) Before lodging a motion referred to in subsection (9), the Scottish Ministers must consult the Electoral Commission.

(11) At the same time as lodging a motion referred to in subsection (9), the Scottish Ministers must lay before the Scottish Parliament a document setting out the reasons why they consider the validity period mentioned in subsection (8)(b) should apply in relation to the question or statement.

(12) In subsection (8), for the purpose of reckoning the number of sessions in a period, any extraordinary general election in that period is to be disregarded unless it is one which results in section 3(3) of the Scotland Act 1998 having effect.

(13) As soon as reasonably practicable after being consulted under subsection (2), (3) or (10), the Electoral Commission must—

(a)

lay before the Scottish Parliament a statement of any views of the Commission on the matter, and

(b)

publish the statement in such manner as the Commission may determine.

(14) If the Scottish Parliament resolves to consult the Electoral Commission on the wording of a question or statement in a referendum, the Commission must, as soon as reasonably practicable—

(a)

lay before the Scottish Parliament a statement of any views of the Commission on that question or statement, and

(b)

publish the statement in such manner as the Commission may determine.

Power to change date of referendum if UK election on same date

Power to change date of referendum if UK election on same date

S-3 Power to change date of referendum if UK election on same date

3 Power to change date of referendum if UK election on same date

(1) The date of a referendum must not be the same as the date on which any other election or poll is scheduled to be held throughout Scotland.

(2) If the date of a referendum is the same as the date of a UK election, the Presiding Officer may appoint a later date on which the poll at that referendum is to be held.

(3) The date appointed under subsection (2) may not be more than 6 weeks later.

(4) The Presiding Officer may appoint a date under subsection (2) only if the Scottish Parliament is dissolved or in recess.

(5) Before appointing a date under subsection (2), the Presiding Officer must consult the Electoral Commission.

(6) The Presiding Officer must publish a statement of the date appointed under subsection (2).

(7) In this section—

“date of a referendum” means the date on which the poll at a referendum is to be held in pursuance of provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

“date of a UK election” means the date appointed as the polling day for an early parliamentary general election under section 2 of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Franchise

Franchise

S-4 Those who are entitled to vote

4 Those who are entitled to vote

A person is entitled to vote in the referendum if, on the date on which the poll at the referendum is held, the person is—

(a) aged 16 or over,

(b) registered in the register of local government electors maintained under section 9(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 for any area in Scotland,

(c) not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart) (see section 5), and

(d) a Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a relevant citizen of the European Union.

S-5 Those who are subject to a legal incapacity to vote

5 Those who are subject to a legal incapacity to vote

For the purposes of this Act, a person is, on any date, subject to a legal incapacity to vote if the person would be legally incapable (whether by virtue of any enactment or any rule of law) of voting at a local government election in Scotland held on that date.

Voting etc.

Voting etc.

S-6 Provision about voting etc.

6 Provision about voting etc.

Schedule 1 makes provision about voting in the referendum, including—

(a) provision about the manner of voting (including provision for absent voting),

(b) provision about registration,

(c) provision about postal voting, and

(d) provision about the supply of certain documents.

Conduct

Conduct

S-7 Chief Counting Officer

7 Chief Counting Officer

(1) The Scottish Ministers must, in writing, appoint a Chief Counting Officer for the referendum.

(2) The Chief Counting Officer is to be the person who, immediately before the coming into force of the Act of the Scottish Parliament referred to in section 1(2) or regulations made under that Act, is the person appointed as the convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland by virtue of section 2 of the Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Act 2011.

(3) But subsection (2) does not apply if—

(a)

there is no person appointed as convener at that time,

(b)

that person is unable or unwilling to be appointed as the Chief Counting Officer,

(c)

that person has been removed from office as the Chief Counting Officer under subsection (5),

(in which case the Scottish Ministers must appoint such person as they consider appropriate).

(4) The Chief Counting Officer may resign by giving notice in writing to the Scottish Ministers.

(5) The Scottish Ministers may, by notice in writing, remove the Chief Counting Officer from office if—

(a)

where subsection (2) applies, the Chief Counting Officer ceases to be the convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland,

(b)

the Chief Counting Officer is convicted of any offence, or

(c)

they are satisfied that the Chief Counting Officer is unable to perform the Chief Counting Officer’s functions by reason of any physical or mental illness or disability.

(6) If the Chief Counting Officer dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Scottish Ministers must appoint another person to be the Chief Counting Officer.

(7) The Chief Counting Officer may, in writing, appoint deputies to carry out some or all of the officer’s functions and, so far as necessary for the purposes of carrying out those functions, any reference in this Act to the Chief Counting Officer is to be read as including a deputy.

(8) A person may be appointed to be—

(a)

the Chief Counting Officer,

(b)

a deputy of the Chief Counting Officer,

only if the person is or has been a returning officer appointed under section 41(1) of the 1983 Act.

S-8 Other counting officers

8 Other counting officers

(1) The Chief Counting Officer must, in writing, appoint a counting officer for each local government area.

(2) The Chief Counting Officer must notify the Scottish Ministers of each appointment made under subsection (1).

(3) A counting officer may resign by giving notice in writing to the Chief Counting Officer.

(4) The Chief Counting Officer may, by notice in writing, remove a counting officer from office if—

(a)

the Chief Counting Officer is satisfied that the counting officer is for any reason unable to perform the counting officer’s...

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