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Party fundraising Tuesday, 13 October, 1998, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Fair funding for referendums
Welsh devolution celebrations
Yes campaigners celebrate last year's Welsh devolution referendum
Last year's referendum on devolution for Wales could have gone the other way if the campaign had been fairer, the Neill Committee's report has said.

In future, funds should be provided for both sides of any issue subject to a referendum, and the government must remain neutral throughout the campaign.

The government-backed Yes campaign for a Welsh assembly only narrowly won the referendum by 559,419 votes to 552,698. Turn-out was just 50.1% of the electorate.

The Committee says it was disturbed by evidence it heard in Cardiff that the campaign was very one-sided, with the No camp seriously under-funded.

"The outcome of the Welsh referendum was extremely close, and a fairer campaign might well have resulted in a different outcome," according to the report.

It recommends core funding for both sides in future referendums, with the proposed Election Commission deciding which organisations, if any, should receive it.

Any group that receives the core funding would be required to submit audited accounts to the commission within three months of the referendum.

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