Clause 1 — Referendum on the alternative vote system

Part of Royal Commission (London) – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 12th October 2010.

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Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland) 6:00 pm, 12th October 2010

The hon. Lady makes her point well; I will add no more, other than to thank her for that intervention.

The amendment tabled in my name and those of my hon. Friends seeks to correct the huge error that has been made and to enable a day to be found, with the Electoral Commission taking the lead, so that the referendum can take place on a date on which no other election to a Parliament or Assembly in the United Kingdom is to be held. To that end, it seeks respect and consultation between the UK's parliamentary and Assembly institutions. I have not prescribed a specific date, but have specified a time frame within which a referendum could take place. That would enable everything to occur and the process to be completed before the next UK election, which was alluded to during the programme motion debate.

My thinking in framing the amendment was to avoid being prescriptive and repeating the Deputy Prime Minister's error of finding a date and arguing for it, regardless of what else might be happening on that date. My main motivation has been to respect already established processes and elections by finding another day, consensually and with respect for all by all. I do not, however, rule out supporting other amendments through a mechanism of mutual support.

I move the amendment because, although this issue is important-the Committee would not be discussing it if it was not-it is not as important as the range of policy choices to be made in Scotland and the re-election of an SNP Government on 5 May 2011.