CABINET OFFICE – EU REFERENDUM & CIVIL SERVICE IMPARTIALITY – 29 February 2016
Dr Julian Lewis: Because this is such a divisive issue and because so many people feel so strongly about it, it has been decided that instead of Government taking the decision, the people should take the decision. What does it do for the sense of fairness among the people if the big battalions of the civil service seem to be lined up on one side of the argument and spin doctors in Downing Street do botched letters to the press from generals who have not even signed up to them saying that one side of the argument is right and the other side of it is wrong?
[The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Matthew Hancock): The debate over how this would operate took place during the passage of the European Union Referendum Bill, which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe took through Parliament. During the passage of that Bill, there was quite a debate, for example, about how purdah should operate, and many concessions were made by the Government in order to ensure that the process is fair. The result of that was an Act that included the requirement for the Government to take a view and then to be able to set out information on various aspects of the referendum, and that is exactly what we are doing.]