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General background on the process leading to the referendum in Scotland to be held on 18 September 2014 is covered in Library Standard Note 6578 Referendum on independence for Scotland. This Note covers the campaign rules which operate for the referendum, as set out in the Scottish Parliament legislation, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013.

The main rules are:

The Electoral Commission regulates spending limits, and decides which organisations to designate as lead campaigners.

Designated organisations for Yes and No have spending limits of £1.5m each and were designated on 23 April 2014, before the regulated referendum period of 16 weeks ending with the poll on 18 September 2014. The regulated period begins on 30 May 2014. The main political parties will be able to spend as follows:

Scottish National Party £1,344,000

Scottish Labour £831,000

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party £399,000

Scottish Liberal Democrats £204,000

Scottish Green Party £150,000.

Other parties and permitted participants (campaign groups) will be able to spend up to £150,000.Donations and non-commercial loans over £7500 will have to be reported to the Electoral Commission before and after the poll. The total of donations and loans over £500 have to be reported after the poll.

Promotional material from the Scottish Government, Scottish local authorities and public bodies is banned for 28 days before the poll as a statutory requirement. The UK Government have a similar non-statutory commitment in the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement, para 29.

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