Clause 1 — Referendum on the alternative vote system

Part of Deferred Divisons – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 16th February 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams Liberal Democrat, Bristol West 7:45 pm, 16th February 2011

I thank the hon. Gentleman, who is my Political and Constitutional Reform Committee colleague, for that intervention, but I think he can predict my answer. What disturbs me about the response from their Lordships last night is that it ignores the will of the elected House. Our fellow Select Committee colleague, Mrs Laing, got that balance exactly right.

The Welsh Assembly election in 2003 had a turnout of only 38%. I ask my Labour friend, Chris Bryant, who is an ally in arguing for a yes vote should we have the referendum in Wales, does he really think the Government of Rhodri Morgan who were elected in 2003 had no validity because only 38% of his constituents turned out? Does Sir Gerald Kaufman think the Labour administration of Manchester city council, elected on a 27% turnout in 2008, has no legitimacy whatever? That same question could be asked of Sheffield with 36%, or Leeds-a Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition-with 35.7%.