New Clause 88 — Referendum on voting systems

Part of Bill Presented — Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 6:00 pm, 9th February 2010

I would make two points in response to that. First, these so-called extrapolations cannot take into account how voter behaviour would change under a different system, but I profoundly believe it would do so-that must be the case. The late, excellent, noble Lord Alexander of Weedon made a good point in his dissenting note to the 1999 Jenkins report about what happened in '83 and '97. I have never believed that voters would react in the way that was proposed, however. Moreover, what we are debating now is not whether the House should decide on the alternative vote, but simply whether we give the British people an opportunity to have a debate about the matter.

My second point is about my hon. Friend's statement that there is a difference between elections of party leaders and elections of MPs. I do not accept what he says on that. The reason why all major parties have an eliminating ballot system is so that the person who is elected leader has legitimacy and a broad consensus of support. I suggest, particularly to those of us who profoundly believe in single-Member constituencies, that that is of even more importance in constituencies than it is for party leaders.

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