Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

The Government have made it clear that it will be for the next Government to bring forward such a vote. I think we have got until September or October at the earliest before we need to decide whether to do that.

Mike Wood: Succinct thanks to the Prime Minister, but what assessment has he made of the opportunities for preliminary negotiations before triggering Article 50?


David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I was born in March 1976, almost exactly nine months after the last referendum; I have not dared ask my parents how they felt about the result. I never expected to be campaigning to leave the EU, having spent seven very happy years working in the European Parliament for what was then the EPP-ED Group, working on internal market policy, including the development of the existing services directive. I have certainly seen a number of benefits of the EU, but I have also seen too many of the frustrations and limitations that are involved in our membership.

Mike Wood: On that very point, the family-owned Hinton Perry & Davenhill brickworks in my constituency has recently invested £5 million in new energy and production efficiency measures. Does my hon. Friend agree that undermining the business model on which such brickworks operate reduces investment in energy efficiency, thereby worsening the situation, rather than helping?


Craig Tracey Conservative, North Warwickshire

Mike Wood: With 90% of firms in Northern Ireland being SMEs, what support is being put in place to safeguard their interests when collaborative procurement is promoted?


Ben Wallace Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

My hon. Friend is correct that SMEs suffer when bureaucracy is too great, and that is why the Cabinet Office has been leading the red tape challenge, which is designed to reduce red tape for small business.

Mike Wood: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the referendum at the end of these negotiations must be final and that there can be no question of second chances or further renegotiation if people choose to leave the European Union?


David Lidington The Minister for Europe

Mike Wood: Surely the hon. Gentleman recognises that that is exactly why landlords can just refer the issue. The Home Office will then, I understand, rule on it within 48 hours.


Gavin Newlands Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire North

I think perhaps the hon. Gentleman has not heard about the difficulties faced by the helplines. More resources are required.

Mike Wood: Surely, the hon. Gentleman recognises that one way to guarantee that the referendum will not be seen to be fair is to change the rules of the franchise from those which applied when he was elected—when all of us were elected—just a few weeks ago.


Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South

Mike Wood: Does my hon. Friend share my concerns that the provisions of section 125 would allow the European Commission to make statements and publish material affecting a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, but would prevent British Ministers or Departments from publishing material to correct or counter such a publication?


Bill Cash Conservative, Stone

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate and to follow on from some exceptional maiden speeches by other hon. Members, even if they have set the bar unreasonably high.