Powered by
Share this page on
Article provided by Wikipedia

Referendum Act 1975
Act of Parliament
"Long title An Act to provide for the holding of a referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community.
"Citation 1975 c. 33
Introduced by "Edward Short, "Lord President of the Council
Territorial extent United Kingdom
"Royal assent 8 May 1975
"Commencement 8 May 1975
Repealed 2 May 1986
Other legislation
"Repealed by "Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1986 (1986 c. 12)
Relates to "European Communities Act 1972
"European Union Referendum Act 2015
Status: Repealed
Constitutional documents and events (present & historical) relevant to the status of the "United Kingdom and legislative unions "of its constituent countries
""Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
"Treaty of Union 1706
"Acts of Union 1707
"Wales and Berwick Act 1746
"Irish Constitution 1782
"Acts of Union 1800
"Government of Ireland Act 1920
"Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921
"Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
"EC Treaty of Accession 1972
"NI (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
"European Communities Act 1972
"Local Government Act 1972
"Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
"NI Border Poll 1973
"NI Constitution Act 1973
Referendum Act 1975
"EC Membership Referendum 1975
"Scotland Act 1978
"Wales Act 1978
"Scottish Devolution Referendum 1979
"Welsh Devolution Referendum 1979
"Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
"Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
"Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997
"Scottish Devolution Referendum 1997
"Welsh Devolution Referendum 1997
"Good Friday Agreement 1998
"Northern Ireland Act 1998
"Government of Wales Act 1998
"Scotland Act 1998
"Government of Wales Act 2006
"Northern Ireland Act 2009
"Welsh Devolution Referendum 2011
"European Union Act 2011
"Scotland Act 2012
"Edinburgh Agreement 2012
"Scottish Independence Referendum 2014
"Wales Act 2014
"European Union Referendum Act 2015
"EU Membership Referendum 2016
"Scotland Act 2016
"Wales Act 2017
"EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017
"Invocation of Article 50 2017
"European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2018

The Referendum Act 1975 (c. 33) also known simply as the Referendum Act was an "Act of the "Parliament of the United Kingdom, which made legal provision for the holding of a non-binding "referendum on whether the "United Kingdom should remain a member of the "European Communities (EC)—generally known at the time in the UK, with reference to their main component, the "European Economic Community (EEC) as stipulated in the Act, also known at the time as the "Common Market".[1] The Referendum Bill was introduced to the "House of Commons by the "Leader of the House of Commons and "Lord President of the Council "Edward Short on 26 March 1975; on its second reading on 10 April 1975, MPs voted 312-248 in favour of holding the referendum—which came the day after they voted to stay in the "European Communities on the new terms set out in the renegotiation.

The Act gave effect to a manifesto commitment of the "Labour Party at the "general election of October 1974, and set out the arrangements and procedure for the United Kingdom's first ever national referendum, in which voting was to take place simultaneously in all parts of the country. The Act was given Royal Assent on 8 May 1975 and came into effect immediately on the same date.

In accordance with the Act, the "European Communities membership referendum took place on Thursday 5 June 1975, and voters approved continued EC/EEC membership by 67% to 33% on a national turnout of 64%.[2]

The Act became affectively "spent following the declaration of the national referendum result, however it was not officially repealed until eleven years later, by the "Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1986.


The Act[edit]

The Act legislated for a non-blinding referendum to be held in the "United Kingdom on Thursday 5 June 1975 on the issue of continuing membership of the EC and the EEC (the Common Market), which was to be a single majority vote, to be overseen by an appointed "Chief counting officer" who would declare the final result for the United Kingdom. As there was no previous precedent for the holding of any such plebiscite across the United Kingdom the Act also set out its procedure and format.

The referendum[edit]


The Act also provided for the equal public funding of two campaigns, one for a Yes vote, the other for a No vote. While each campaign was to receive the same amount of public money which amounted to £125,000 each, other donations were also to be permitted with no upper spending limit for either side .[3]

Counting areas[edit]

The Act allowed for the appointment of a "National Counting Officer" (later "Chief Counting Officer") who would lead and oversee the referendum both centrally and nationally. Also within the legislation it oversaw the appointment of the "Returning Officers" who would oversee the counts within their local areas. The Act legislated for verification which would be held at local authority level (district councils) after the close of polls but the counting of votes would be only permitted and declared at the level of administrative regions under the "Local Government Act 1972 and the "Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 as follows:

This meant there would be a total of 68 counting areas across the United Kingdom (47 in "England, 8 in "Wales, 12 in "Scotland and a single area for "Northern Ireland). Verification took place locally in England and Wales after the polling stations closed but the referendum count itself did not begin until the day following the poll on Friday 6 June from 09:00 "BST.

Referendum question[edit]

The Act set out the following question which the British electorate would be asked:

The Government has announced the results of the renegotiation of the United Kingdom's terms of membership of the European Community.

Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?

permitting a YES / NO answer (to be marked with a (X)).

Original proposed question[edit]

When the bill was introduced it gave the question to appear on ballot papers:

Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community?

permitting a YES / NO answer (to be marked with a (X)).

The question was revised after the Government agreed to amend it to include the term "the Common Market" in brackets at the end of the question.


The right to vote in the referendum was given to those who were residents of the United Kingdom, who were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) and other persons with most other forms of "British nationality, or "Commonwealth citizens, under the "British Nationality Act 1948, in both cases, and also "citizens of the Republic of Ireland resident in the United Kingdom, all of which as according to the provisions of the "Representation of the People Act 1969. Members of the "House of Lords were permitted to vote. Voting took place from 07:00 to 22:00 "British Summer Time on Thursday 5 June. The minimum age for voters in the referendum was 18 years, a figure in line with general elections in the UK at that time.

Referendum result[edit]

All but two of the regional counting areas returned large majority votes in favour of continued EC membership.

The national result was declared at around 23:00 "BST on Friday 6 June 1975 by the Chief Counting Officer "Sir Phillip Allen in "London after all sixty eight of the regional counting areas had declared their results.

United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum, 1975
National result
Choice Votes %
Yes 17,378,581 67.23%
No 8,470,073 32.70%
Vaild votes 25,848,654 99.78%
Invalid or blank votes 54,540 0.22%
Total votes 25,903,194 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 40,086,677 64.67%
National referendum results (without spoiled ballots):
17,378,581 (67.3%)
8,470,073 (32.7%)

Results by United Kingdom constituent countries[edit]

"Constituent country Electorate Turnout (%) Yes No
Votes % Votes %
"England 33,356,208 64.6% 14,918,009 68.7% 6,812,052 31.3%
"Wales 2,011,136 66.7% 869,135 64.8% 472,071 35.2%
"Scotland 3,688,799 61.7% 1,332,186 58.4% 948,039 41.6%
"Northern Ireland 1,030,534 47.4% 259,251 52.1% 237,911 47.9%


The result, with "yes" votes from all but two of the 68 regional counting areas, confirmed the commitment to continued membership of the EC and of the EEC ("the Common Market") on the renegotiated terms; and the government led by "Harold Wilson took no further direct action. Until the "2016 EU Referendum this was the only national referendum to be held in the United Kingdom regarding its relationship with the then European Communities, by then both the EC the EEC had transformed (retrospectively) into the "European Union (EU), under the terms of the "Treaty of the European Union (EU), known as the Maastricht Treaty (TEU) (1992, effective 1 November 1993).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Current Law Statutes Annotated 1975, vol. 1 (Sweet and Maxwell, 1975), pp. 1,051-1,058
  2. ^ Colin Turpin, Adam Tomkins, British Government and the Constitution: Text and Materials (2007), p. 535
  3. ^ Referendums in the United Kingdom (Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 2010), p. 140
) ) WikipediaAudio is not affiliated with Wikipedia or the WikiMedia Foundation.