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UK could be 'bounced' into EU referendum 'with just four weeks' notice'

The UK could be bounced into an in-out referendum on EU membership with just four weeks' notice, the Lords heard.

Tory peer Lord Hamilton of Epsom demanded changes to the European Union Referendum Bill to ensure that at least ten weeks' warning is given to voters ahead of the national poll which is set to be held by the end of 2017.

Lord Hamilton told fellow peers that if Prime Minister David Cameron decided to "bounce" the country into a vote with four weeks' warning it would mean there could not be a "level playing field" in the campaign.

The Conservative peer said that his proposal had been backed by the Electoral Commission.

"People do need time, they don't really want to be bounced into a referendum with only 28 days' notice," Lord Hamilton said.

The Tory peer said that despite Government assurances there would be a longer lead-in to the referendum, the Bill allowed for the possibility of just four weeks' notice being given.

Labour's Lord Liddle said he was putting down a "tongue in check" amendment to have the referendum put back until 2019 because there was little chance of achieving any significant concessions by 2017 as that year would be dominated in Europe by French and German national elections.

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