Clause 1 — Referendum on the alternative vote system

Part of Royal Commission (London) – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 12th October 2010.

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Photo of Ian Davidson Ian Davidson Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 8:00 pm, 12th October 2010

We were never promising it on the same day.

Let me deal with the question of contamination. Many previous speakers have indicated the way in which they believe the debate will be contaminated in Scotland because of the spill-over. As time goes on, the main focus of debate will not be on the minutiae of the AV referendum, it will be on the impact when the AV referendum is lost by the Liberals. Will the coalition split? What price will they then demand as a reward, because what they got as a reward before will have come to naught? That will be a matter of immense focus, certainly in Scotland, and I am sure elsewhere. The collapse of the coalition only a year into a Government will be of considerable significance, not only in Scotland, but in Britain and across the world. That will be the main focus of attention and will overwhelm the coverage of the Scottish election.

Some of my colleagues, particularly the Alliance Member, Naomi Long, spoke about the difficulties of joint campaigning on the referendum. While MPs never usually take the fact that something has been said already as an excuse not to repeat it, on this occasion she has said it perfectly adequately so I will refrain from doing so. But there will also be-a point that she did not touch on particularly-confusion about costs. There will be two elections in Scotland, one for the first-past-the-post seats and one for the list seats, and then there will be referendum. People involved in both those elections will be campaigning on behalf of their parties in both elections and on the yes and no side, and there will be cross-cutting cleavages. The process of allocating expenditure will be almost impossible, I should have thought.

Many of us in Scotland are aware-I am glad to see in his place the right hon. Member for Ettrick, Lauderdale and Tweeddale-is it?