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Scotland (Referendum)

Volume 957: debated on Thursday 9 November 1978

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asked the Lord President of the Council (1) if he will make a statement on the extent and estimated cost of the campaign which the Government intend to have in seeking to obtain a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum; and if he intends to issue and make public guidance to Departments on what expenditure is or is not permitted in connection with the campaign;(2) if the travel and accommodation costs of Ministers participating in the Scottish referendum on 1st March will be met from public funds; and if there are any other persons whose costs will be financed in this way.

So far as the Government are concerned, expenditure for the campaign will be limited to the activities of Ministers fulfilling official engagements at which they will continue to explain the Government's policy as approved by Parliament and seek the electorate's endorsement of it. No useful estimate of the limited costs involved is possible and guidance to Departments is unnecessary. The distinction between Ministers' official and political activities is well established and understood.

asked the Lord President of the Council if the services of information officers and other civil servants will be used in connection with the Government's campaign for a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum.

Only to the extent necessary to assist Ministers to continue to explain the Government's policy on devolution as now approved by Parliament. Civil Servants would not, of course, be used for any party political activity.

asked the Lord President of the Council if it is the Government's intention to produce any leaflets or other printed material to be distributed to the public as part of the Government's campaign to seek a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum.

asked the Lord President of the Council if it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to seek the opportunity of making ministerial broadcasts during the Scottish referendum.

If such broadcasts were made, the normal rules would, of course, apply.

asked the Lord President of the Council if it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to provide information, advice or any resources from the Civil Service or public funds to the Yes for Scotland umbrella organisation; and if he will make a statement.

No distinction would be made in responding to requests for factual information from any organisation or individual. Financial assistance would have required statutory provision in the Scotland Act.

asked the Lord President of the Council what discussions or correspondence he has had with the BBC or the independent broadcasting organistations about television and radio coverage of the Scottish referendum; and if he will make a statement.

None. I hope that there will be opportunities to explain to the people of Scotland and Wales the importance of voting in the referendum. However, any allocation of time for this purpose would flow from an initiative by the broadcasting authorities.