Draft petition: Referendums Act.

With some like-minded people, I am thinking of putting this on the parliamentary petitions site. Comments welcome (within reason.)

NB. I use “referendums” as a plural. This is based on “referendum” being a gerundive form of Latin verb rather than a singular neuter noun. (With thanks to “Twitch” Vail, Latin teacher at Price’s School, Fareham, in the 1960s.)

We believe that the use of referendums should be avoided, as they undermine the process of representative government on which our parliamentary system depends.

We therefore call upon the Government to introduce to Parliament legislation to create a UK Referendums Act  to regulate their use.

The Act should include:

  • Criteria for the subjects of referendums – e.g., in questions of national sovereignty; also specific exclusions e.g., questions of conscience such as abortion and assisted suicide
  • Mandatory intervals between referendums on the same subject (e.g., 30 years)
  • A specified required level of support in the Commons for referendums (e.g., two-thirds of MPs)
  • A codified assumption that if a referendum fails, the status quo is endorsed
  • Provisions to ensure that referendum outcomes are endorsed by a majority in the electorate (e.g., by “double majorities” or two-thirds support as for constitutional questions in the USA.)
  • A ban on simplistic questions which can be answered with Yes or No.




2 thoughts on “Draft petition: Referendums Act.

  1. I think this is an excellent idea. The referendum has become a tool for destruction in this country rather than a plebiscitary mechanism to be used only in very rare and specific circumstances. SNP use it as a sort of threat bordering on blackmail.

    Best of luck with this.



  2. In English one is free to say either referenda or referendums. Referenda is not incorrect: referendum is indeed the neuter nominative singular gerundive of the verb refero, but gerundives decline in the same way as first/second declension adjectives, with both singular and plural forms. The neuter nominative plural is referenda.


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