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Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill


Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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A

Bill

[AS AMENDED ON REPORT]

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 the holding of referendums about

options for implementing the recommendations of such reviews; 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     Assembly 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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HL Bill 5953/2
 
 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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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.

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

recommendations in relation to the region in pursuance of section 13.

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

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years starting with the date on which he gives a direction under section 13 in

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

think that the 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

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he would not have given a direction under section 13.

     (8)    If the Secretary of State has cause to think that the level of interest has changed

materially as mentioned in subsection (6), that subsection does not apply but

he must not make an order under subsection (1) unless for the purposes of

subsection (4) he considers—

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           (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

specified in the order.

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 2     Local government referendums

     (1)    This section applies if 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 that region.

     (2)    The Secretary of State must by order cause a referendum to be held in each

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county area in the region about the government’s proposals for the structure of

local government in that area.

     (3)    A county area is an area in the region in relation to which both a county council

and one or more district councils have functions.

     (4)    But if the government’s proposals for a county area include an option

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providing for a local authority whose area includes any part of the area of more

than one county area, the county area for the purposes of this section is the

combined area of each of those county areas.

     (5)    The government’s proposals for the structure of local government—

           (a)           are such of the recommendations of the Boundary Committee for

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England made in pursuance of a direction under Part 2 of this Act as the

Secretary of State thinks appropriate subject to such modifications (if

any) as he proposes to make in pursuance of section 17(3);

           (b)           must include at least two options for structural change (within the

meaning of Part 2 of the Local Government Act 1992 (c. 19)) in relation

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to each county area in the region.

     (6)    The date of a referendum held in pursuance of an order under subsection (2)

must be—

           (a)           specified in the order;

           (b)           the same date as the date specified in the order under section 1.

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Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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     (7)    An order under subsection (2) must not be made before the end of the period

of 6 weeks starting with the day on which the Secretary of State receives the

recommendations of the Boundary Committee in pursuance of a direction

under Part 2 of this Act.

     (8)    The Secretary of State by order—

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           (a)           may vary an order under subsection (2);

           (b)           must revoke such an order if he revokes the order under section 1.

     (9)    A Minister of the Crown may by order make such provision as he thinks

appropriate in connection with a referendum held in pursuance of an order

under subsection (2).

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     (10)   An order under subsection (9) may—

           (a)           make provision for the creation of offences;

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

provision of any enactment (whenever passed or made and including

this Act) relating to elections or referendums;

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           (c)           modify any provision of Chapter 2 of Part 7 of the 2000 Act as it applies

to a referendum held in pursuance of an order under section 1.

 3     Referendum questions

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

section 1 is:

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

     (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

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intended that:

                         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

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

Voters in those parts of the region are being asked a separate question

about their preferred option for a single tier in their area.”

     (3)    The question to be asked in a referendum in pursuance of section 2(2) is:

            

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            “Which of the following options for single tier local government do you prefer?

                  •                    insert text of options set out in the order requiring the referendum to

be held.”

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

precede the question on the ballot paper used in any part of the region where

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a referendum is held in pursuance of an order under section 2(2):

            

            “If an elected assembly is established for the (insert name of region) region, it is

intended that local government will be reorganised into a single tier in those

 

 

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Part 1 — Referendums

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

will be no reorganisation if an elected assembly is not established.

            Your part of the region currently has both county and district councils. You can

help to decide how local authorities in your part of the region will be

reorganised into a single tier.”

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     (5)           An order under section 2(2) must set out—

           (a)           the text of the options to be inserted in the question specified in

subsection (3);

           (b)           such explanatory material relating to the options as will be made

available for voters at the time they vote.

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     (6)    Before an order under section 2(2) is laid before Parliament in pursuance of

section 29(2) the Secretary of State must consult the Electoral Commission—

           (a)           on the wording of the text required to be inserted in pursuance of

subsection (3);

           (b)           on the explanatory material.

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     (7)    At the time when the order is so laid the Secretary of State must lay before each

House a report stating any views which the Commission have expressed in

response to the consultation as to—

           (a)           the intelligibility of the text mentioned in subsection (6);

           (b)           the explanatory material.

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     (8)    Explanatory material does not include instructions to voters as to the conduct

of the referendum.

 4     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)    A person is entitled to vote in a referendum held in a county area of a region in

pursuance of an order under section 2(2) if on the date of the referendum he is

entitled to vote at the election of councillors for any electoral area in the county

area.

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     (3)    But subsections (1) and (2) are subject to provision made by the Secretary of

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

a register of electors.

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

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

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relating to referendums or elections.

     (5)    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).

     (6)    County area must be construed in accordance with section 2.

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 5     Referendum period

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

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

pursuance of an order under section 1.

 

 

 
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