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Neighbourhood Planning Referendums

Volume 543: debated on Thursday 26 April 2012

1. What recent assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the rules relating to neighbourhood planning referendums. (105432)

The commission is reviewing the draft regulations for the conduct of neighbourhood planning referendums and will respond to the Department for Communities and Local Government shortly. As required by the Localism Act 2011, the Department also consulted the commission on proposed questions to be put to voters at these referendums. The commission published its assessment of the proposed questions on 11 April and has recommended some changes to the wording to make it easier for voters to understand. It also suggested the need for supplementary information to be made available to voters to enable them to participate in an informed way.

The people of Bromsgrove are pleased that the Localism Act has given them unprecedented powers to shape their local community, but the wording in the referendums is crucial. Has the commission considered the best way to word such questions and will it be issuing formal guidance?

I am delighted to be able to give my hon. Friend a positive response. He makes the important point that in any referendum it is important that the question is right, clear and fair. The commission is conducting detailed research with experts, the public, political parties and campaign groups to ensure that the wording in the upcoming referendums under the Localism Act is unbiased and intelligible.