New Clause 88 — Referendum on voting systems

Part of Bill Presented — Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 8:15 pm, 9th February 2010

I concede that point. One does not have to express further preferences.

My other point is still valid, however. The Government have introduced this measure for rather shabby reasons, which were brilliantly exposed by my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Grieve in his very entertaining opening speech. I do not believe that the hearts of the Lord High Chancellor and the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Wills-an effective and agreeable Minister who, sadly, is not standing again-are in this. They are going through the motions because they feel obliged to do so. They are doing this with a reasonable degree of compliance because they know that, at the end of the day, these measures are not going to become law. The timetable makes that impossible. We were originally going to have four days in which to discuss the Bill; we are now on the sixth, and there will be at least one more. Then, it will have to go to another place, and because certain parts of the Bill have not been debated at all in this place, there will be a need for further thorough scrutiny and debate.

This is therefore a cynical exercise, which is taking Parliament's eye off the ball on which it should be focused-namely, the great national and international affairs of the day. As I said when we debated the money resolution earlier, this is another example of the Government treating this place with contempt and pretending to be the servant of democracy. They are not. There is no perfect system, but the one that we have at the moment is infinitely better than the one that is being proposed. The only other system worthy of consideration is the one that is the subject of the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead.

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