Clause 1 — Referendum on the alternative vote system

Part of Royal Commission (London) – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 12th October 2010.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), DUP Westminster Leader 8:30 pm, 12th October 2010

I agree with my hon. Friend, and the referendum question will, I hope, be the subject of another debate later this evening.

If there is to be a change of date, it has to be to the date of the referendum. There can be absolutely no question of the elections in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland being moved. As all parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly have said-I cannot speak for other devolved legislatures-our council and Assembly elections should proceed on the designated date in May, and the referendum vote should be held at a different time. I hope that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will take that on board, because the situation is unlike the one in Scotland. A Conservative Member mentioned the Scottish Parliament's ability to move the date of the Scottish Parliament elections, but in Northern Ireland the Assembly cannot vote to move the date of Assembly elections. It can vote by a two-thirds majority to dissolve itself, but only the Secretary of State can move the date of the Assembly elections. That is a real problem.