New Clause 88 — Referendum on voting systems

Part of Bill Presented — Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of Martin Linton Martin Linton Labour, Battersea 8:00 pm, 9th February 2010

That is true. Although it would not have the same effect as a totally proportional system, AV would push elections in the direction of being more sensitive not just to the core voters of a particular party, but to the electorate in each constituency. That would focus politicians' minds on winning over the second preferences from other parties. That is a good discipline, and one that, at this moment in Parliament's history, would not go amiss.

I want AV to be an issue at the next election, so that I can make it clear to people in my constituency who want change that I will support it, and so that the referendum will happen. That will expose the shallowness of the Conservative commitment to change. There is little in this country in such obvious need of change as the voting system, and if the Conservatives oppose change, they will lose any credibility as a party of change. What is wrong with giving voters a choice in a referendum? What is wrong with expecting MPs to be backed by a majority of their voters? What is wrong with allowing voters to express a second preference? What is wrong with putting a bit more choice in the hands of the voter? The Opposition do not have any answers to any of those questions.

What we are debating is a small step, but frankly we owe it to the voters. Whether we are personally involved in the expenses scandal or not, this Parliament has shaken the voters' faith in us. We have been shown up to be acting in our own interests, rather than in the interests of our constituents. Here is a classic case where we can improve the voting system-from the voters' point of view, not from ours. That is the very least that we can do to help to restore the voters' trust in the democratic system.

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