New Clause 88 — Referendum on voting systems

Part of Bill Presented — Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Secretary of State for Justice 7:15 pm, 9th February 2010

There are two points to consider in the hon. Lady's question. The first is whether the single transferrable vote would break the constituency link, which it would not. It would just mean that there were more Members per constituency. It would break the one Member, one constituency link. For 17 years I was a local councillor and there were three members in my ward, but I did not feel that that meant I represented the people in my ward less. In fact, when a member of another party represented the ward for a few years, it increased competition between the parties in the ward and made us all better representatives.

The hon. Lady's second point was about the Jenkins commission's proposal, which was a political compromise but not one that we have to stay with for ever. It has a great number of disadvantages. First, it would set up two entirely different sorts of Member-the constituency Member and the list Member. There would be an overlap of responsibility between the two, but they would have very different mandates, which would lead to difficulties. Secondly, because the county seats would be so small-the lists would not be national; they would relate to very small regions by the standards of most regional list systems-the proposal would create the most extraordinary conflict of interest between AV-elected Members and county list Members. It would be in the interests of a list Member if his or her party colleagues lost in the constituency seat, which does not seem particularly sensible from the point of view of political parties or coherent government.

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