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D-Day: September 18

Welsh Devolution

Briefing by Vaughan Roderick, Welsh Affairs Editor, BBC Wales

Part 4. You decide
The Referendum

The referendum in Wales will be held on September 18, one week after the Scottish vote. The government claims that the different dates have been set to ensure that the Welsh proposals are given full coverage in the UK media. Cynics suggest that its an attempt to achieve a bandwagon effect with a"Yes" in Scotland influencing voters in Wales.

The chances of the "Yes" side are also heightened by the decision to hold the refendum prior to the passing of the main devolution legislation. The government insists that this is to facilitate the passing of what will be a highly complex bill.

In reality the 1979 experience showed that the process of scrutinising the legislation would inevitably highlight weaknesses and problems rather than the strengths of the bill.

Prior to the referendum, a popular summary of the White Paper will be distributed to all households. This follows the pattern of the 1975 European referendum rather than the previous devolution polls. Although the government insists that the summary, along with other government advertising, will be politically neutral, the No campaign believes it will inevitably be biased.

Unpublished Labour focus-group research suggests that the more electors are exposed to the arguments the more likely they become to support the proposals. However even-handed the government material is, Labour is convinced that it will help the devolution cause.

THE BALLOT PAPER

Due to the fact that the people of Wales and Scotland will be asked to vote for different bodies - in Scotland a Parliament and in Wales an Assembly - the ballot papers are different in both countries.

In Scotland there will be two papers asking the people to vote for a Parliament or not, and the second paper will ask the people if they agree that the Parliament should have tax-varying powers. The Welsh people will be presented with a single ballot paper asking whether they are in favour of a Welsh Assembly or not.

FORM OF THE WELSH BALLOT PAPER
Parliament has decided to consult people in Wales to the Government's proposals for a Welsh Assembly
Mae'r Senedd wedi penderfynu ymgynghori phobl yng Nghymru ar gynigion y Llywodraeth ar gyfer Cynulliad i Gymru
Put a Cross (X) in the appropriate box
Rhowch groes (X) yn y blwch priodol.
I AGREE THAT THERE SHOULD BE A WELSH ASSEMBLY
YR WYF YN CYTUNO Y DYLID CAEL CYNULLIAD I GYMRU
OR
NEU
I DO NOT AGREE THAT THERE SHOULD BE A WELSH ASSEMBLY
NID WYF YN CYTUNO Y DYLID CAEL CYNULLIAD I GYMRU

All electors on the local government electoral roll in Wales will be entitled to vote but no provision has been made for "Welsh exiles" to cast a ballot, a decision that has caused some resentment. Votes will be counted on a local authority basis at 22 counting centers.

The results will be announced in the early hours of Friday September 19, both locally and at a national counting centre. There are no provisions for a re-count.

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