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This Standard Note sets out progress on the European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-4 introduced by the Conservative MP James Wharton, who was first in the ballot for Private Members’ Bills. The Bill is designed to require the holding of a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) before the end of 2017.

The Bill was given a second reading on Friday 5 July 2013 by 304 votes to nil. Research Paper 13/41 European Union (Referendum) Bill gives full background to the Bill. The question to be asked, as set out in the Bill is: “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?”

A Money Resolution was debated in the Commons on 16 July 2013. The committee stage began on 17 July 2013, when the Public Bill Committee sat for over 10 hours. There were six sittings, ending on 11 September and no amendments were made. Once the Bill had been given a second reading, the Electoral Commission began its consultation on the intelligibility of the question, using its powers under section 104 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It issued its report on 29 October 2013. It recommended that Parliament might want to consider a different formulation to the question, noting that some potential electors were unaware that the UK was currently a member of the EU.

Report stage took place on 8, 22 and 29 November 2013. A new clause was added allowing Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar to vote in the EU referendum, but no other major amendments were made. The question was unamended. The Bill was given a third reading on 29 November 2013 and sent to the Lords where it was reprinted as HL Bill 63 . It was sponsored in the Lords by Lord Dobbs. Lords Library Note LLN 2014/001 gives further background The Bill had a second reading on 10 January 2014 and two days in committee on 24 and 31 January 2014 but did not finish its committee stage and has made no further progress. There are no more days set aside in the Commons for balloted private members bill, so the Bill is likely to fall at the end of the session. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has indicated that the Conservative Party would again support the Bill in the next session.

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