New Clause 88 — Referendum on voting systems

Part of Bill Presented — Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Labour, Birkenhead 7:00 pm, 9th February 2010

If that is my hon. Friend's thinking, I hope that I will persuade him of the merits of my amendment. I do not want anyone to think that I am not concerned about the fact that votes are not equal between constituencies. If we go back in history, one of the demands-it was not just a radical plea of the Chartists, but one that was picked up on the other side-was to have single votes and equal votes. It is clearly very different if we look at the numbers by which Labour Members and Conservative Members are elected. Unfairest of all is how many votes the Liberal Democrats have to receive to get a single Member of Parliament.

In my amendment, I propose the French system, whereby people have a vote whereby they are free to nominate any number of candidates that they wish, and they have a first preference vote. In constituencies where the candidate gets 50 per cent. plus one, they are declared elected. In all the other constituencies where a majority of the voters who turn out have not elected a member, during the following week the top two candidates are put back on to the ballot paper. In those circumstances, there is no need to guess, because everybody has first preference votes again. It is true, of course, that that system might be more expensive, but given what we spend money on now, might not the electorate prefer it? Interestingly, it is consistently the case in France that turnout on the second day of polling is significantly higher than on the first day.

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