The Electoral Commission plans to send an information booklet to each household in the United Kingdom. The booklet will include a factual description of the first-past-the-post and alternative vote systems. It will not comment on the merits of different electoral systems used for particular elections. That is a matter for the yes and no campaigns. The booklet will also include information on the devolved elections and how to register to vote, and will be supported by an advertising campaign.
I have already seen some palpably false claims about the alternative vote system from the no campaign, which the yes campaign will obviously need to rebut, yet I note that it has been awarded only £380,000 to make its arguments, as of course has the no campaign, whereas a maximum of £600,000 was available. Is there any chance that the Electoral Commission will increase the funding equally to both sides?
Nobody has been awarded any money yet because nobody has been designated to run the yes and no campaigns. That will happen later in March. I am not aware of the specific figures that the hon. Gentleman mentions, but I will refer his comments to the Electoral Commission. If there is an opportunity to do more and do better, we will certainly take it.
I am happy to be able to reassure my hon. Friend on that point. As part of the development of the text for the core section of the information booklet, the commission consulted academic experts on electoral systems. These were Professor Colin Rallings of the university of Plymouth and Professor David Sanders of the university of Essex. The consultation was intended to ensure that the explanations of the first-past-the-post and alternative vote systems were accurate. The commission also consulted the Plain Language Commission to ensure that the text was as accessible as possible, and undertook research co-ordinated by the Central Office of Information to ensure that the text was understood by voters. This involved in-depth interviews with members of the public in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.