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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Souter presses on with poll
Brian Souter graphic
Mr Souter is pressing ahead with his poll plan
Stagecoach tycoon, Brian Souter, is set to announce plans for a privately-funded referendum on Section 28 in Scotland within the next few weeks.

The Electoral Reform Society has refused to become involved with the poll but a spokesman for Mr Souter's Keep the Clause campaign has said another British company was involved in the plan.

The transport chief is leading the fight for the retention of Section 28, which bans the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a "pretended family relationship" in schools.

A source close to the campaign has confirmed that the poll was likely to be announced once contracts had been concluded. The plan was "well advanced but not completed".

Computer database

The Electoral Reform Society refused to carry out the postal ballot, saying it would not be a "legitimate democratic exercise" to ask people for their opinion before it was known what would replace the clause.

Mr Souter had vowed to press ahead with the referendum and Keep the Clause is known to have prepared a computer database of Scotland's three point nine million voters.

First Minister, Donald Dewar, made his opposition to a referendum clear last month, calling it "extraordinary". He said he would only pay heed to the votes of MSPs on the issue.

The original plan for the referendum was for it to take place before MSPs' final vote on the clause, which is due to take place in May.

The executive plans to replace Section 28 with guidelines which, unlike the present legislation, would not be legally binding.

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See also:

31 Mar 00 | Scotland
Souter poll hits major setback
28 Mar 00 | Scotland
Delay for Souter's Section 28 poll
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