The official YES and NO campaigns may be limited to a maximum of £750,000 for their respective independence referendum campaigns under the terms of the draft Referendum Bill. The regulated period for the official referendum campaign could be just one month in comparison to the regulated period of one year for General Elections and four months for Holyrood elections.
No spending limit has been set for the likely long run-up to the official start of the referendum campaign, due sometime in the second half of the Scottish parliament. Foreign donations have been banned but it seems likely there will be no ban on referendum contributions from individuals such as Tory supporter Lord Ashcroft, or SNP donor Brian Souter via one of their UK based companies.
The political parties at Holyrood will also be allowed to spend £100,000 each while other ‘permitted participants’ will be able to spend up to £37,000, and ‘non-permitted participants’ £3000.
Last night, the Scottish Government said that the draft legislation for setting up the referendum would be used as the “template” for the new law, which will then have to be passed in Holyrood. The eventual referendum poll is estimated to cost somewhere in the region of £9.5 million
Those eligible to vote would include British citizens, Commonwealth citizens, Irish citizens and EU citizens who live in Scotland. Armed services personnel serving overseas who are registered to vote in Scotland would also be eligible to vote.
The SNP Government is to set up a three-member Scottish Referendum Commission to oversee the referendum poll and ensure that it’s run to the highest international standards. The Scottish Government believes an independent Scottish Referendum Commission, accountable to Holyrood, should fulfil that role and verify that the referendum is held to the highest possible standards.