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Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill


Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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A

Bill

[AS AMENDED IN COMMITTEE]

To

Make provision for the holding of referendums about the establishment of

elected assemblies for the regions of England (except London); for reviewing

the structure of local government in regions where the holding of a

referendum is under consideration; for implementing the recommendations of

such reviews; for the Electoral Commission to give advice in connection with

the establishment of assemblies; for payment of grant in connection with the

activities of regional chambers; and for incurring expenditure in preparation

for assemblies and in connection with the transfer of functions to them.                                                                            

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and

consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part 1

Referendums

Referendums

 1     Referendums

     (1)    The Secretary of State may by order cause a referendum to be held in a region

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specified in the order about the establishment of an elected assembly for that

region.

     (2)    The date of the referendum must be specified in the order.

     (3)    But the Secretary of State must not make an order under subsection (1) unless

each of the following two conditions is satisfied in relation to the region.

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     (4)    The first condition is that the Secretary of State has considered the level of

interest in the region in the holding of such a referendum.

 
HL Bill 4953/2
 
 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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     (5)    The second condition is that the Boundary Committee for England have made

recommendations in relation to the region in pursuance of section 12.

     (6)           The Secretary of State may make the order at any time during the period of two

years starting with the date on which he gives a direction under section 12 in

relation to the region so long as before he makes the order he has no cause to

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think that that level of interest has changed materially.

     (7)    A change in the level of interest is material if the changed level is one at which

the Secretary of State (disregarding factors relating to any other region) thinks

he would not have given a direction under section 12.

     (8)    If subsection (6) does not apply, for the purposes of subsection (4) the Secretary

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of State must consider—

           (a)           views expressed and information and evidence provided to him;

           (b)           such published material as he thinks appropriate.

     (9)    The Secretary of State may by order vary or revoke an order under this section

if he thinks it is not appropriate for a referendum to be held on the date

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specified in the order.

 2     Referendum question

     (1)    The question to be asked in a referendum held in pursuance of an order under

section 1 is:

             “Should there be an elected assembly for the (insert name of region) region?”.

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     (2)    The following statement (in as nearly as may be the following form) must

precede the question on the ballot paper:

            “You can help to decide whether there should be an elected assembly in the

(insert name of region) region. If an elected assembly is to be established, it is

intended that:

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                         the elected assembly would be responsible for a range of activities

currently carried out mainly by central government bodies, including

regional economic development; and

                         local government would be reorganised into a single tier in those parts

of the region that currently have both county and district councils.

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There would be no such reorganisation of other local authorities in the

region.”

 3     Entitlement to vote

     (1)    A person is entitled to vote in a referendum held in a region in pursuance of an

order under section 1 if on the date of the referendum he is entitled to vote at

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the election of councillors for any electoral area in the region.

     (2)    But subsection (1) is subject to provision made by the Secretary of State in

regulations for disregarding alterations made after a specified date in a register

of electors.

     (3)    The regulations may apply or incorporate with or without modifications or

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exceptions any provision of any enactment (whenever passed or made)

relating to referendums or elections.

 

 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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     (4)    An electoral area is any electoral division or ward (or in the case of a parish in

which there are no wards the parish) for which the election of councillors is

held under the Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70).

 4     Referendum period

For the purposes of Part 7 of the 2000 Act (referendums) the Secretary of State

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must by order determine the referendum period for a referendum held in

pursuance of an order under section 1.

 5     Referendums: frequency

     (1)    This section applies if—

           (a)           a referendum is held in a region in pursuance of an order under section

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1, and

           (b)           a majority of the votes cast in the referendum is against there being an

elected assembly for the region.

     (2)    No further order under section 1 may be made in relation to the region until

the end of the period of five years starting with the day on which the

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referendum was held.

     (3)    Any question as to the number of votes cast in a referendum in favour of an

answer to a question is determined by the certificate of the Chief Counting

Officer given under section 128 of the 2000 Act (functions of Chief Counting

Officer).

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Combination of polls

 6     Combination of polls

     (1)    A Minister of the Crown may by order make provision for the combination of

polls at a referendum held in pursuance of an order under section 1 with—

           (a)           polls at a referendum held under section 27 of the Local Government

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Act 2000 (c. 22) or by virtue of regulations or an order under Part 2 of

that Act;

           (b)           polls at any election.

     (2)    The order may—

           (a)           make provision in connection with the combination of polls;

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           (b)           make provision for the creation of offences;

           (c)           apply or incorporate with or without modifications or exceptions any

provision of any enactment (whenever passed or made) relating to

elections or referendums.

     (3)    A Minister of the Crown must not make an order under this section unless he

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first consults the Electoral Commission.

 

 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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Electoral Commission

 7     Encouraging voting

The Electoral Commission may do anything they think necessary or expedient

for the purpose of encouraging voting at referendums to be held in pursuance

of an order under section 1.

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 8     Provision of information to voters

     (1)    This section applies if—

           (a)           the Secretary of State makes an order under section 1 to cause a

referendum to be held in a region about the establishment of an elected

assembly for the region, and

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           (b)           before the appropriate day the Electoral Commission have not

designated (in relation to each possible outcome of the referendum) an

organisation under section 108 of the 2000 Act (organisations to whom

assistance is available under section 110 of that Act).

     (2)    The Electoral Commission may take such steps as they think appropriate to

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provide for persons entitled to vote in the referendum such information as the

Commission think is likely to promote awareness among those persons about

the arguments for and against each answer to the referendum question.

     (3)    The appropriate day is—

           (a)           the 43rd day of the referendum period if one or more applications

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under section 109 of the 2000 Act (applications for assistance under

section 110 of that Act) is made before the 29th day of the referendum

period in relation to each possible outcome of the referendum;

           (b)           the 29th day of the referendum period in any other case.

     (4)    But if a Minister of the Crown makes an order under section 109(6) of the 2000

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Act the appropriate day is the day specified in the order for the purposes of this

section.

     (5)    Information provided in pursuance of this section must be provided by the

means the Commission think is most likely to secure (in the most cost effective

way) that the information comes to the notice of all persons entitled to vote in

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the referendum.

 9     Expenditure

     (1)    A Minister of the Crown (with the consent of the Treasury) may by order make

provision for the payment by the Electoral Commission of any of the

following—

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           (a)           the charges in respect of services properly rendered or expenses

properly incurred by a counting officer in connection with a

referendum held in pursuance of an order under section 1;

           (b)           the sum equal to any increase in the superannuation contributions

required to be paid by a local authority in respect of any person in

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consequence of a fee paid as part of a counting officer’s charges under

paragraph (a).

     (2)    The order may include provision as to—

 

 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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           (a)           the services and expenses or descriptions of services and expenses in

respect of which payment may be made;

           (b)           the maximum amount to be paid or reimbursed in respect of such

services and expenses or descriptions of services and expenses;

           (c)           payments in advance;

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           (d)           accounts to be submitted.

     (3)    A Minister of the Crown must not make an order under this section unless he

first consults the Electoral Commission.

Legal proceedings

 10    Exclusion of legal proceedings

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No court shall entertain any proceedings for questioning the number of ballot

papers or votes cast in a referendum held in pursuance of an order under

section 1 as certified by the Chief Counting Officer for the referendum or by a

counting officer.

Supplementary

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 11    Supplementary

     (1)    This Part does not affect the power of a Minister of the Crown to make

provision under section 129 of the 2000 Act (orders regulating the conduct of

referendums) for or in connection with a referendum held in pursuance of an

order under section 1 above.

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     (2)    It is immaterial whether the power is exercised before or after the passing of

this Act.

     (3)    Section 126 of the 2000 Act (identification of promoter and publisher of

referendum materials) does not apply to any material published for the

purposes of a referendum held in pursuance of an order under section 1 above

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if the publication is required under or by virtue of an order under section 129(1)

of that Act or section 6 above.

     (4)    Expressions used in this Part and in Part 7 of the 2000 Act have the same

meaning in this Part as they do in that Part.

     (5)    The 2000 Act is the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

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(c. 41).

     (6)    Subsection (4)—

           (a)           does not apply to references to the Secretary of State;

           (b)           is subject to section 26 below.

     (7)    This section applies for the purposes of this Part.

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Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 2 — Local government reviews

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Part 2

Local government reviews

Reviews

 12    Local government review

     (1)    If the Secretary of State is considering whether to cause a referendum to be held

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in a region about the establishment of an elected assembly for the region, he

may direct the Boundary Committee for England—

           (a)           to carry out a local government review of the region;

           (b)           to make recommendations as to the matters considered by the review.

     (2)    But the Secretary of State must not give a direction unless he has considered the

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level of interest in the region in the holding of a referendum.

     (3)    If at any time the Secretary of State is considering whether to cause a

referendum to be held in two or more regions he may consider (for the purpose

of deciding in respect of which (if any) regions to give a direction) any

differences in the levels of interest in the different regions in the holding of a

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referendum.

     (4)    For the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) the Secretary of State must

consider—

           (a)           views expressed and information and evidence provided to him;

           (b)           such published material as he thinks appropriate.

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     (5)    For the purposes of deciding in respect of which (if any) regions to give a

direction the Secretary of State may also consider—

           (a)           the effects he thinks the carrying out of a local government review will

have on the relevant local authorities (taken as a whole) in the region;

           (b)           differences in the effects he thinks the carrying out of local government

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reviews will have on the relevant local authorities (taken as a whole) in

different regions;

           (c)           the implications for the Boundary Committee of the making of

directions in respect of two or more regions at the same time or in close

proximity of time;

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           (d)           the resources needed for the Boundary Committee to carry out local

government reviews;

           (e)           whether the Boundary Committee have made any recommendations in

respect of a region in pursuance of an earlier direction under this

section.

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     (6)    For the purposes of subsection (5)(a) and (b) the Secretary of State—

           (a)           must have regard (in particular) to the number of relevant local

authorities in a region and the number of people living in the areas of

those authorities;

           (b)           must ignore any effect of the implementation of recommendations of

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the Boundary Committee following a review.

     (7)    It is immaterial that anything done for the purposes of subsection (4) or (5) is

done before the passing of this Act.

     (8)    A direction may require the Boundary Committee—

 

 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 2 — Local government reviews

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           (a)           to start the review not later than a specified date;

           (b)           to make their recommendations not later than a specified date.

     (9)    But the Secretary of State must not give a direction containing such

requirements unless he has consulted the Boundary Committee as to the dates

he proposes to specify.

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     (10)   A direction under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent

direction.

 13    Local government review: supplementary

     (1)    This section applies for the purposes of section 12.

     (2)    The number of people living in an area is taken to be the most recent estimate

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of that number published by the Office for National Statistics.

     (3)    A local government review is a review to consider—

           (a)           what structural change is most appropriate for the region;

           (b)           whether any boundary changes should be made in the region in

connection with or to facilitate the carrying out of the structural change.

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     (4)    Relevant local authorities are the county council and district council for any

area in the region in relation to which both councils have functions.

     (5)    The Boundary Committee must not consider any boundary change in relation

to—

           (a)           any area in the region which is not the area of a relevant local authority;

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           (b)           any area outside the region.

     (6)    The Boundary Committee for England may require a public body to give the

Committee such information as they reasonably require in connection with

their functions under this Part.

     (7)    A public body must comply with a requirement under subsection (6).

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     (8)    In carrying out their functions under this Part the Boundary Committee

must—

           (a)           assume that there is an elected assembly for the region;

           (b)           recommend structural change for so much of the area of the region as

is comprised of the areas of all of the relevant local authorities in the

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region;

           (c)           have regard to the need to reflect the identities and interests of local

communities;

           (d)           have regard to the need to secure effective and convenient local

government;

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           (e)           have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

 14    Review procedure

The provisions of the 1992 Act specified in the left hand column of the Table

apply to a review carried out by the Boundary Committee for England in

pursuance of a direction under section 12 of this Act as they apply to a review

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carried out by them under Part 2 of that Act subject to the modifications

specified in the right hand column:

 

 

 
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