Tag Archives: Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Chris Rennard writes… So what was all the fuss in Parliament about?

Late on Wednesday night Nick Clegg was at the back of the House of Lords to see Royal Assent granted to the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill.

His presence there emphasised his achievement in getting this Bill through Parliament in time to enable the referendum on switching to the Alternative Vote to take place on May 5th.

Of course people may not vote to change from First Past the Post. But I have never thought that any measure of electoral reform for Westminster would come about without a referendum. The self-preservation instincts of many MPs means that they are never …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Labour’s filibustering and the consequences for political reform

A slightly shorter version of this piece appeared on OurKingdom last week:

The unprecedented filibustering by Labour peers (or rather more accurately, given the splits between hardliners and moderates about Labour’s ranks in the Lords, some Labour peers) of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill is having two unintended side-effects which will be important for the future of political reform.

The most obvious is the way in which Labour’s chosen style of opposition has driven Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers closer together. A more subtle form of opposition might have looked to divide the coalition partners, but repeated late nights …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

Paul Tyler writes… Radicals and reactionaries on the red benches

Julian Glover, writing on the Guardian website, has called the situation in the House of Lords well today. “This is a ceasefire not an armistice,” he says.

As of midday today (Wednesday), Lord “Charlie” Falconer appears to have retreated from the undertakings he was giving earlier in the week to expedite the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies (PVSC) Bill. Labour Peers are apparently determined both delay and elongate the Report Stage, so making it impossible for the AV referendum to take place on May 5th. As Julian Glover says, “the behaviour of a gang of timeserving Labour …

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Deal struck in Lords over Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

From the BBC:

Tory and Labour peers have reached a deal ending the deadlock which threatened to block a 5 May referendum on changing the Westminster voting system, Lords leader Lord Strathclyde has said…

The government accepted in principle an amendment tabled by the convenor of crossbench peers, Baroness D’Souza, which reinstates public inquiries in the boundary review process in certain circumstances.

The crossbench peers’ amendment would allow, but not compel, the Boundary Commission to hold a local inquiry where an objection raised “substantive issues”. Inquiries would take no more than six months…

Lady D’Souza withdrew her amendment, telling peers she was encouraged

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Chris Rennard writes: The row over the AV referendum will bring forward major changes in the House of Lords

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill has now had a longer Committee stage in the House of Lords than any legislation taken there since at least 1945. The Bill is not a particularly complicated Bill when compared with, say, the last Labour Government’s Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Labour’s last constitutional Bill covered thirteen different areas of constitutional reform (including an AV referendum) and was dealt with in the Commons in a few days by use of a ‘Programme Motion’ (guillotine).

The PVSC Bill has been subject to an extensive and well organised filibuster on Labour’s benches abusing …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , and | 56 Comments

Crossbenchers increasingly hostile to Labour as government makes boundary changes

Increasing anger from crossbench peers at Labour’s filibustering in the Lords looks to be preparing the way for either Labour backing down or (for the Lords) highly unusual procedural decisions to end the filibustering. As I put it earlier in the week, if Labour loses the support of the crossbenchers, it will not only lose the struggle over this bill but weaken its ability to successfully oppose other legislation in the future.

At the same time, the government has been showing its willingness to listen to scrutiny rather than filibustering by agreeing to two changes to the ways in which …

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

Compromise and conflict in the air in Lords stand-off over filibustering

There’s a finely balanced stand-off in the Lords over the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill. Many Labour peers feel they are just a few days of filibustering away from achieving, for them, a major political objective – forcing the government to change the date of the AV referendum – and, or perhaps instead, forcing major changes to the Bill, such as a change in the new rules for drawing up Parliamentary constituencies.

However they also face a major risk of the delaying tactics going wrong. Over-play their hand, annoy the cross-bench peers and spur the government into action and the …

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Lib Dem Peer Lord Goodhart calls for filibuster ban

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

I hope this isn’t what Labour means by sensible debate over Parliamentary boundaries

We’ve heard a lot in recent weeks about how keen the Labour Party is to have sensible debate, careful consideration and proper analysis of the government’s proposals to change the way Parliamentary boundaries are drawn up.

So if you were to take a look at an article just written for a Labour pressure group by a current MP (i.e. one who has been in Parliament whilst the legislation has had all its House of Commons stages) and member of the Labour Party, and published by a Labour pressure group, you’d expect it perhaps to contribute to that serious debate. Or at …

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Parliamentary pillow fight as peers face all-night sittings

Members of the House of Lords are bedding down for the first ermine sleepover in recent Parliamentary history as peers debate the government’s plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform.

After eight days of the Bill at Committee Stage, there are still 165 amendments of the original 275 remaining for consideration.

From the Financial Times:

Labour peers are braced for the prospect of all-night sittings in the coming days in what the government has condemned as unprecedented “filibustering” by the opposition party.

Officials were setting out camp beds in several rooms in the House of Lords on Monday night for

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: the forgotten deadline in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

With the Yes to AV campaign getting into full swing (and attempts by the No camp to do the same), it is perhaps unsurprising that the majority of the recent commentary on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill has revolved around Part I of that Bill, which deals with the AV referendum (and the earlier post on LDV by Keith Sharp about the message of the pro-AV campaign is essential reading). But in the excitement, we seem to have allowed a very significant deadline to pass by – the deadline for the compilation of Electoral Rolls on …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Chris Rennard writes… The battle for electoral reform in the Lords

Battle has been joined in the House of Lords over the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill (generally referred to as the PVSC Bill). Having passed all stages in the Commons, it came to the Lords this week. It needs to get to Royal Assent by the end of January for the referendum on using the Alternative Vote for future Westminster elections to be held on May 5th next year.

Two controversial measures have been put together in one Bill as part of the coalition agreement.  The Government won every vote in the Commons on this Bill with comfortable majorities. But Labour’s …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Dear Lord Falconer…

Dear Lord Falconer,

You have me confused with your claim that the Parliamentary Constituencies and Voting Systems Bill is a hybrid bill (and so should go through a different and slower Parliamentary procedure).

Now, I know that you have many more years of legal training and experience than me, so I wouldn’t be confused if there was just the one reason for you appearing to be wrong. But there are three, you see.

First, as you know when a Bill is introduced the Department of the Clerk of the House has to rule on whether or not it is a hybrid bill. …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes ask: Are you registered to vote?

In the light of today’s news that 3.5 million voters are missing from the electoral register, and in view of the forthcoming boundary changes based on the number of voters on the electoral roll as it stands next month, a timely email reminder today to Liberal Democrat members from Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes:

I’m sure you will agree that we as Liberal Democrats need to play our part in helping to ensure that everybody who should have the right to vote is in a position to exercise that right come next May.

Tomorrow we will be debating the third reading

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Hint to MPs: read legislation before asking a question about it

It’s not unusual for me to be less than impressed with Parliamentary debates on election law matters as so many of those deciding on what legislation should say have so many large gaps in their own knowledge. It’s particularly galling where the subject under debate is something piloted in the long-running series of electoral pilots under Tony Blair – because you get MPs who voted to spend money on the pilots then, a few years later, debating the same topics without any apparent knowledge that the pilots took place or what lessons were learnt from them.

There is good news for …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Elections staff set to miss out on pay if they do a bad job

Amendments 265 and 266 to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill may not have grabbed any headlines but they mark a very welcome change in policy – for under them the fees paid to referendum counting officers will only be paid in full if they meet an adequate standard of performance. Poor performance will now mean less pay.

At the general election, the returning officers in Sheffield and Hackney voluntarily decided to forgo their fees following the major organisational failures in the elections there. However, this was purely a voluntary act as there was no system for judging performance before …

Posted in Election law | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Electoral Commission: AV referendum question should be simplified

The question for the proposed referendum on the UK Parliamentary voting system should be made shorter and easier to understand, according to an assessment published by the Electoral Commission.

As I blogged back in July when when the original question was proposed,

The Electoral Commission is statutorily required to consider the intelligibility of the question, before reporting back to Parliament, who will consider the comments and have the final say after Recess.

Today’s report examines the question:

Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?

The Commission undertook research to find out whether people could easily understand the question, and concluded:

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Labour to oppose voting reform legislation

The Labour shadow cabinet has decided to vote against the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, insisting that it should not be given a second reading.

From the Press Association,

Labour is to vote against legislation paving the way for a referendum on reforming the voting system.

The shadow cabinet decided to oppose the Government’s Bill because it also includes provisions for equalising the size of constituencies.

The move sets the stage for a major test of the coalition, with Labour MPs lining up alongside rebel Tories in a bid to derail the proposals.

The commitment to a referendum on switching to Alternative

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Revealed: the AV referendum question

The wording of the question that voters will be asked in next May’s AV referendum has been published:

Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?

The wording of the question is contained in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, published last week. (The question will also be made available in Welsh.) The Electoral Commission is statutorily required to consider the intelligibility of the question, before reporting back to Parliament, who will consider the comments and have …

Posted in Election law | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment
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