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Clause 1 — Referendum on the alternative vote system

Part of Royal Commission (London) – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 12th October 2010.

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Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 8:45 pm, 12th October 2010

I will refer to that point in a moment, but it is a significant one. The questions that immediately come to mind are: who will have responsibility for ensuring the correct polling cards are sent out? Who will take responsibility for ensuring that the ballot boxes are returned to the correct authority, so as to ensure that counting takes place? And, as the hon. Gentleman has said, will the UK referendum be counted first, and is that not an insult to democracy in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

I draw the House's attention to the election in the Vale of Glamorgan in 2007. Counting went on throughout the night, finishing at 10.30 am after five counts. Fortunately, there was no need for recounts on the regional list papers; otherwise, it would have taken even longer. We might, of course, have that sort of recount in May. There are also questions about the feasibility of holding the three votes at the same time.

Due to the nature of the elections, the electorate in Wales will face three ballot papers at the same time: a yes/no, a d'Hondt and a first past the post. There will be two for the election for the Assembly, including one for the constituency. That could lead to the same congestion at the ballot boxes as people experienced in May this year. If many electors needed to have the ballots explained to them because they had not fully understood the significance of all three papers, that would eat further into the time available for voting. There are very persuasive arguments in favour of not having the election and the referendum on the same day, and I urge the Committee to support amendment 155.