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Conservative Party PortraitsThe Island’s MP, Andrew Turner joined 28 other Conservative Members of Parliament on Tuesday night who voted in favour of an amendment to the EU Referendum Bill which would have ensured the Government could not use public funds to support Britain staying in the European Union in the weeks leading up to the poll.

The amendment was not passed – but the Island’s MP says it was nontheless an important vote.

The vote came after concessions were made yesterday to allay concerns voiced by many MPs that the debate would not be seen as fair and balanced if the machinery of Government is used to support just one side of the argument.  However, it is unlikely that the details of the Government’s proposals will be available until shortly before the Bill is debated again in the Commons.

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Mr Turner said:

“In advance of general elections there is a period of time when the Government does not get involved in political issues.  It is known as ‘purdah’ and has also been applied to referendum campaigns in the past.  The Government originally wanted purdah not to apply for the referendum on our EU membership, although they subsequently changed their minds on that.

“However I did not feel there were enough safeguards to be sure that the referendum would be fair to both sides – so I voted against the Government last night.  I will of course look at the detail of the Government’s proposals as soon as they are available – but it is a point of principal that I do not think that the civil service should be involved in promoting either side of this important decision.”

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