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 Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 8:00 pm, 9th February 2010

I was very careful to say that I preferred the status quo, but if there were to be a change, this is the one system that would commend itself to many people. I have said this over many years in the House, in articles and elsewhere, so there is no question of my changing my mind.

My greatest objection to the AV system is that the voter has to state preferences when they really want to vote for a particular individual and, often, a particular party. They do not want to be asked for a second preference after they have cast their vote. I also find compelling the argument that there is a real danger of giving disproportionate power and influence to those who vote for fringe candidates. In his intervention, my hon. Friend Mr. Hayes was either too sensitive or, unkind people might say, too mealy-mouthed to mention the British National party, but AV has the potential to give influence to those who vote for zany parties, for silly minority parties and for downright evil minority parties. That is something that we have to take into account.

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