This House of Commons Library paper summarises the progress of the European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16 through Parliament. The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 9 June 2015 and progressed through Committee stage on 16 and 18 June 2015. Report stage and Third Reading took place on 7 September 2015. The Bill returned from the House of Lords on 1 December 2015.Jump to full report >>
The European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16 was introduced in the House of Commons on 28 May 2015 and received its Second Reading on 9 June 2015. This Briefing Paper summarises the progress of the Bill; it complements Briefing Paper 07212 European Referendum Bill 2015-16 that was prepared before the Bill’s Second Reading debate.
The provisions of the Bill that attracted most debate during Second Reading were those concerning the franchise, the timing of the referendum, and the lifting of the purdah provisions (Section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA)).
During Committee stage, amendments were made to ensure that:
At Report stage, the Government brought forward a series of amendments to reinstate the purdah provisions but with certain exemptions to be specified in regulations. The new clause setting out these arrangements was amended to require any regulations to be made four months before the referendum date. The Government was defeated on its amendment that would have applied the purdah provisions but with modifications. An Opposition amendment with the effect of applying the purdah provisions in full was agreed.
The Bill was also amended to change the referendum question to the wording recommended by the Electoral Commission. A number of other Government amendments were made:
The Bill received its Third Reading after a division.
On 13 October the Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords. A number of amendments were made to the Bill during its Committee and Report stages and on Third Reading. Most of these were technical, but there were also amendments to:
The House of Commons considered the Lords' amendments on 8 December 2015. The Commons agreed to most amendments, but disagreed to the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds, “Because it would involve a charge on public funds”.
The House of Lords will consider this reason on 14 December 2015.