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Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997

The Referendums (Wales & Scotland) Act 1997 (c. 61) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which made legal provision for the holding of two non-binding referendums in both Scotland on the establishment of a democratically elected Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers and in Wales on the establishment of a democratically elected Welsh Assembly. It was introduced to the House of Commons by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair on 15 May 1997 just two weeks after the landslide Labour victory in the 1997 General Election and was the very first Bill to be presented to the Commons by the Blair Government of 1997-2007. The Act received royal assent on 31 July 1997.

Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act to make provision for the holding of a referendum in Scotland on the establishment and tax-varying powers of a Scottish Parliament and a referendum in Wales on the establishment of a Welsh assembly; and for expenditure in preparation for a Scottish Parliament or a Welsh Assembly.
Citation1997 c. 61
Introduced byTony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Territorial extentScotland & Wales
Dates
Royal assent31 July 1997
Other legislation
Relates toScotland Act 1998, Government of Wales Act 1998
Status: Spent
Text of statute as originally enacted

Contents

BackgroundEdit

On 1 March 1979 voters in both Scotland and Wales voted in referendums on proposed Assembles under the provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 and the Wales Act 1978. The result in Scotland was a narrow "yes" by 51% of voters but failed to achieve an overall minimum 40% "yes" vote of the registered electorate and the motion failed to pass and in Wales the proposal was rejected outright by 79% of voters and political fallout from the results led to the fall of the Labour government 1974–79 which then led to Margaret Thatcher's victory in the 1979 UK General Election and the beginning of eighteen years of Conservative government.

The ActEdit

The Act legislated for the holding of non-binding referendums to be held on 11 September 1997 in Scotland on weither there should be a democratically elected Scottish Parliament with tax varying powers and on 18 September 1997 in Wales on whether there should be a democratically elected Welsh Assembly and gave powers to both the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales to enable the referendums to take place and gave them both the power to appoint Chief Counting Officers to oversee the referendums.

FranchiseEdit

The right to vote in the referendums in both Scotland and Wales applied to residents who were British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens as well as those who were entitled to vote in all local government elections including all resident EU citizens. Members of the House of Lords from both Scotland and Wales were also able to vote in the referendums. The minimum age for voters in both referendums was 18 years with polling stations open from 07:00 to 22:00 BST. In total almost 6.2 million people would be eligible to vote across Scotland and Wales combined in the referendums.

Referendum in ScotlandEdit

The Act legislated for a referendum to be held across Scotland on 11 September 1997 on the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with tax varying powers. The Secretary of State for Scotland under the act would appoint a Chief Counting Officer to oversee the referendum and also appoint local counting officers in each of the local government areas. Just under four million people were eligible to vote including EU nationals residing in Scotland.

Referendum questionsEdit

Under the Act the electorate was asked to vote on two sets of statements which corresponded to both proposals on different coloured ballot papers.[1]

On the first ballot paper the following appeared:

Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament:

I agree there should be a Scottish Parliament

or

I do not agree there should be a Scottish Parliament

(To be marked by a single (X))

On the second ballot paper the following appeared:

Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament to have tax-varying powers:

I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers

or

I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers

(To be marked by a single (X))

Counting areasEdit

The 32 Scottish council areas were used as the counting areas for the referendum under the provisions of the Act.

Question 1 ResultEdit

 
Map showing results by council.
  80–90% Yes
  70–80% Yes
  60–70% Yes
Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 (Question 1)
National result
Choice Votes %
I agree there should be a Scottish Parliament 1,775,045 74.29%
I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament 614,200 25.71%
Valid votes 2,389,445 99.50%
Invalid or blank votes 11,986 0.50%
Total votes 2,401,431 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 3,973,673 60.43%

Every council area voted "I agree" to the proposed Scottish Parliament.

Question 2 ResultEdit

 
Map showing results by council.
  70-80% Yes
  60-70% Yes
  50-60% Yes
  <50% Yes
Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 (Question 2)
National result
Choice Votes %
I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers 1,512,889 63.48%
I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers 870,263 36.52%
Valid votes 2,383,152 99.21%
Invalid or blank votes 19,013 0.79%
Total votes 2,402,165 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 3,973,673 60.45%

Votes in favour of tax-varying powers still commanded significant majority, when compared to establishing the Parliament per se. A majority voted 'I agree' in every local council, apart from in Dumfries & Galloway[2] and Orkney.[3]

Referendum in WalesEdit

The Act legislated for a referendum to be held in Wales on 18 September 1997 on the establishment of a Welsh Assembly. The Secretary of State for Wales under the act would appoint a Chief Counting Officer to oversee the referendum and also appoint local counting officers. Almost two and a quarter million people were eligible to vote including EU nationals residing in Wales.

Referendum questionEdit

On the ballot paper the following appeared in both English and Welsh:


Parliament has decided to consult people in Wales on the Government's proposals for a Welsh Assembly:
Mae'r Senedd wedi penderfynu ymgynghori pobl yng Nghymru ar gynigion y Llywodraeth ar gyfer Cynulliad i Gymru:

I agree there should be a Welsh Assembly
Yr wyf yn cytuno dylid cael Cynullied I Gymru

or

I do not agree there should be a Welsh Assembly
Nid wyf yn cytuno dylid cael Cynullied I Gymru

Counting areasEdit

The 22 Welsh council areas were used as the counting areas for the referendum under the provisions of the Act.

ResultEdit

 
Map showing results by council.
Welsh devolution referendum, 1997
National result
Choice Votes %
I agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly
Yr wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad I Gymru
559,419 50.30%
I do not agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly
Nid wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad i Gymru
552,698 49.70%
Valid votes 1,112,117 99.64%
Invalid or blank votes 3,999 0.36%
Total votes 1,116,116 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 2,222,533 50.22%

OutcomeEdit

Following the results of both referendums the Scotland Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 were both passed by the UK Parliament which established both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly and came into being following elections in both Scotland and in Wales in 1999.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Scottish Referendum Live - The Results". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  2. ^ Result – Dumfries and Galloway, BBC, 1997
  3. ^ Result – Orkney Islands, BBC, 1997