General background on the process leading to the referendum in Scotland to be held on 18 September 2014 is covered in Library Standard Note 6578 Referendum on independence for Scotland. This Note covers the rules which have been proposed in the Scottish independence referendum bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 21 March 2013.
The main points of the Bill are:
The Electoral Commission will regulate spending limits, and decide which organisations to designate as lead campaigners.
Designated organisations for Yes and No will have spending limits of £1.5m each during a regulated referendum period of 16 weeks before the poll on 18 September 2014. The main political parties will be able to spend as follows:
Scottish National Party £1,344,000
Scottish Labour £834,000
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party £396,000
Scottish Liberal Democrats £201,000
Scottish Green Party £150,000.
Other parties and permitted participants (campaign groups) will be able to spend up to £150,000.
Donations and non-commercial loans over £7500 will have to be reported to the Electoral Commission during the 16 week period and donation reports published before the poll. Donations over £500 which are impermissible may not be accepted.
Promotional material from the Scottish Government, Scottish local authorities and public bodies is banned for 28 days before the poll.