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Electoral Systems: Referendums

Deputy Prime Minister written question – answered on 14th July 2010.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the costs of holding a referendum on the alternative vote system.

Photo of Thomas Docherty Thomas Docherty Labour, Dunfermline and West Fife

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate his Department has made of the cost to Government Departments of administering the proposed referendum on the alternative vote system.

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the estimated cost to the public purse will be of the referendum on the alternative vote.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Many of the cost elements of running the proposed referendum on the alternative vote system will be similar to those for a general election. The previous Government estimated the cost for conduct elements of the 2010 general election in Great Britain at £82.1 million, Hansard, 30 March 2010, column 1079W. Based on this, and our modelling for the 2009 European and 2010 general elections, it can be estimated that the cost of conduct elements for the proposed referendum will be similar. We have made initial assumptions about the conduct costs of a referendum were it not to be combined with any other polls and on that basis we currently estimate a saving of £17 million on the conduct costs of the referendum through combination.

Additionally, as indicated in the written answer by my hon. Friend Mr Streeter of 6 July, Hansard, column 144W, the Electoral Commission has estimated that the cost of its own activities in relation to the referendum at £9.3 million.

Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, designated lead campaign organisations are entitled to send a referendum address post free, similar to the entitlement in place for candidates at general elections. The cost of funding this entitlement does not form part of the costs of the conduct of the poll. The Government are considering how this entitlement will apply at the referendum on the alternative vote.

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