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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Chair, Public Administration Committee 6:00 pm, 12th October 2010

My hon. Friend should call that freedom. It is surprising that this has turned out to be a matter of such extreme importance to the coalition. The question is not whether the yes or no campaign will do better on this or that date-some people profess to know, but I confess that I do not-but why the Government think it is in the national interest or, dare I say it, in their interest to have the referendum on that particular date, and why it is so important to this Government. The only explanation that we have been given so far relates to money, but, considering the scale of the national deficit, I regard £30 million as more of an excuse than a reason. It is rather like the schoolboy whose excuse that he was late for school because he missed the bus does not exactly explain why he missed the bus.

There might be a perceived advantage for the yes campaign in having an early date before the Government incur too much disapproval from voters in relation to the difficult decisions that have to be made about the deficit. The yes campaign might perceive an advantage from a higher turnout, although the NO2AV campaign disputes that. The yes campaign might perceive an advantage in confusion and ignorance, because there is bound to be more confusion and ignorance about the substance of the issue, which I will address later in my remarks, if the polls are combined.