European Union Referendum Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 9th June 2015.

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Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 12:41 pm, 9th June 2015

Let me complete my remarks on this section, and then I will come back to my hon. Friend’s point. I hope that I will clarify the matter for him.

Clearly, it will be for the yes and the no campaigns to lead the debate in the weeks preceding the poll. The campaigns will be designated by the Electoral Commission, and will receive a number of benefits, including a public grant and eligibility to make a referendum broadcast and to send a free mailshot to voters. I can assure the House that the Government have no intention of undermining those campaigns, and they do not propose to spend large sums of public money during the purdah period prescribed by section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000. A vibrant, robust debate in the best traditions of British democracy is in all our interests. If my hon. Friend’s concern is that the Government are thinking of spending public money to deliver doorstep mailshots in the last four weeks of the campaign, I can assure him that the Government have no such intention. The Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign.