Part 3 — Amendments of other enactments

Part of Royal Commission (London) – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 12th October 2010.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Leader of the Green Party 9:30 pm, 12th October 2010

I am pleased to move the amendment that stands in my name and those of the hon. Members for Clacton (Mr Carswell) and for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell). I welcome the fact that the Committee is at long last debating the possibility of a referendum on electoral reform, but it is crucial that the public choose the voting system, not the politicians. We do not often have referendums in this country, and now that we are planning to have one, the least that we can do is give people a real choice on their ballot papers. It is hugely disappointing that AV is the only alternative to first past the post in the Bill. As a result, the Bill fails to live up to the promise of genuine reform and of re-engaging people with the political process.

Amendment 7 is about giving people a real choice of electoral systems, because it is essential that the referendum question is not set up by the politicians to promote their favoured system. Of course, I have my views about which system would be preferable-the Green party advocates the additional member system as the fairest-but our amendment 7 is not about promoting a favourite system; it is about giving the public the options and allowing them to make their own choice. Rather than simply offering a narrow choice between first past the post and the alternative vote system, our amendment widens the question, so that in addition to the AV option, voters are given the opportunity to express a preference for one of the other main voting systems in elections for UK institutions.

There are two parts to our proposed question. The first part asks people whether they want a change from the current, first-past-the-post system; and for those who do, the second part offers the options of the alternative vote, the additional member system, and the single transferable vote, to be listed in order of preference. Our amendment is needed, because it is contradictory for the coalition to be talking about electoral reform while seeking to offer little more than a Hobson's choice, between AV and first past the post.