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EU Referendum: Campaign Expenditure

Volume 622: debated on Thursday 2 March 2017

10. What assessment the commission has made of the adequacy of the rules on campaign spending during the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. (909034)

The Electoral Commission’s report on the administration of the EU membership referendum, which was published in September 2016, concluded that, overall, the rules on campaigning worked well. The commission has, however, made a number of recommendations based on the experiences in the referendum, which are intended to further improve transparency and the overall effectiveness of the referendum controls. These are now matters for the Government to consider, and the commission looks forward to receiving their response in due course.

I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for that reply. Given that lead campaigners and several of the campaign groups on both sides of the debate now face investigation regarding their spending, does she agree that that suggests there may be a need for the rules to be made simpler for participants to understand?

The commission announced last Friday that it has opened a number of assessments and investigations into the accuracy and completeness of campaigners’ spending returns. It would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on ongoing cases, but the commission will announce the outcomes when it has concluded its investigations.