Committee (3rd Day)
Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill
Lord Campbell-Savours (Labour)
That is not the question. We are dealing here with those who argue that a candidate should need 50 per cent of the poll to win, so do not switch the question to another area. I am only addressing what happens. There are problems with first past the post, which is why I am in favour of electoral reform. I am trying to place on record material to show that those who argue that we need a majority of the electorate to win are simply wrong.
The second important issue is the incidence of the use of additional preferences, which is the principal argument used to justify AV. Last week, I referred to the work of Rallings and Thrasher on results in Queensland, Australia. Colleagues may recall that in the 2009 state elections, 63 per cent of all those who voted "plumped", or voted for, only one candidate. In some areas, as many as three-quarters of all those voting voted for only one candidate. The question is: what would happen in the United Kingdom?
Again following the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, I enlisted the help of Professor John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde. Let me make it clear that I am not reflecting his views-I do not know what he believes in-as I simply asked him for statistical information to be provided. Professor Curtice has given me factual data. I tracked down the six by-election results in Scotland that provide data that indicate the usage of additional preferences under AV. Such data can be secured only where votes are counted electronically, which is why I asked the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, whether the counts would be based on an electronic or a manual basis. Remember that we are dealing here with AV. However, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, is shaking his head. Perhaps I have misunderstood something.