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Electoral Reform Referendum Act
#1
Quote:Electoral Reform Referendum Act

An Act to make provision for the holding of a referendum in the United Kingdom on whether the United Kingdom should adopt a Single Transferable Vote methodology for parliamentary elections.

Section 1: The Referendum
  1. A referendum is to be held on whether the United Kingdom should adopt a more representative method for parliamentary elections
  2. The Secretary of State shall appoint the day on which the referendum is to be held
  3. The day appointed under subsection(2) -
              a) must be no later than 30 May 1993
              b) must not be on the same day as any General Election     
              c) must not be on the same day as any Regional or Local Election
     4. The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is -
              "Should the United Kingdom adopt the Single Transferable Vote method for parliamentary elections via multi-member electoral districts?"
     5. The alternative answers to that question that are to appear on the ballot paper are -
               "Yes"
               "No"
     6. In Wales the question in subsection(4) and the answers in subsection(5) are to be available in both English and Welsh
     7. In Scotland the question in subsection (4) and the answers in subsection (5) are to be available in both English and Gaelic

Section 2: Entitlement to Vote
  1. Those entitled to vote in the referendum are -
            a) the persons who, on the date of the referendum, are entitled to vote in any parliamentary, regional, or local election    
            b)In subsection(1)(a) “local government election” includes a municipal election in the City of London (that is, an election to the office of mayor, alderman, common councilman or sheriff and also the election of any officer elected by the mayor, aldermen and liverymen in common hall).

Section 3: Extent and Commencement
  1. This Act shall be cited as the "Electoral Reform Referendum Act".
  2. This Act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.
  3. The provisions of this bill shall come into force on the day on which this bill receives Royal Ascent.
Mme. Speaker,

I rise today to fulfill one of the pledges my party made in the last election and to fulfill the democratic destiny of our nation. Since the foundation of our constitutional monarchy we have long laboured as a nation to ensure that our true, democratic principles were met. We have abolished rotten boroughs as elitist and anti-democratic. We have extended the franchise now to every Briton 18 and older, not without bloodshed, not without a fight, but extended it we have. We here in parliament and all duly elected leaders stand upon the shoulders of giants including the Pankhursts, Lilly Maxwell, and William Lovett. The right to vote is dipped in the blood of patriots who shed their last full measure of dignity so that we may ensure that our voices heard.

However, too often those voices are stymied by a system that forces the average voter, in order to have a hefty say in how the government is run to vote for the two monolithic parties. This has led to Parliament after Parliament that represent not the true wishes of the people, but the stranglehold of Labour and the Tories. We have a system that is unfair, non-proportional, and undemocratic. It is time to rectify this mistake and I am pleased today to fix this error.

This legislation puts before the people of Great Britain whether or not they want to switch to a more fair, more democratic system based on the single transferable vote methodology via multi-member electoral districts. Now I know that the members opposite will ask and the British people deserve an explanation of why this method. So let us begin.

The single transferable vote method allows for voters to cast a vote for their preferred candidate while ranking the other candidates who also appear on the ballot. Candidates with the least votes are eliminated and those votes transferred based on the preferences given by the voters. This ensures that the leaders elected by the people are chosen based on the wishes of the majority of the constituents in the district rather than on winning a mere plurality as exists in our current system. This system has been used around the world and has been an essential component of proportional representation. 

The other essential piece to this referendum is moving from single constituencies to larger multi-member electoral districts. This lowers the threshold for candidates to enter and compete in the marketplace of ideas. It ensures that minority representatives are not gerrymandered away into political oblivion. And it allows for natural districts to be formed that ensure that the will of the people in that area are represented by leaders with their values.

This legislation and the referendum it entails will ensure that the British people finally have a full, and fair voice in electing their government. It will ensure that Parliament represents the will of the people and not merely the tyranny of the two party system. It is vital, it is necessary, so let us get it done.

Mme. Speaker,

As this is an Opposition Day Bill I ask that this bill be read a second time.
Philip Porter
MP for Orkney and Shetlands (1983-Present)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1992-Present)
Liberal Democrats Spokesman for the Treasury (1992)



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#2
Order! Second reading.
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#3
Madame Speaker,
Under the current system, the will of the people is represented perfectly fine, the people are free to vote for whichever party they so choose in a simple vote. This system has worked and served our people incredibly well over the past hundreds of years and will continue to do so under this government. Madame Speaker let's call this bill what it really is a ploy, the Liberal Democrats say they put this bill up for the will of the people even though the people don't seek a change in electoral systems, this is just really a new parties attempt to gain power that much faster and cause far more gridlock and partisan divide then we have now through a system which will make it much harder not only to determine a winner but to determine whether or not the election was held above board. Not to mention the about of spoiled or uncountable ballots Madame speaker, this bill would simply be a disaster and ought to be voted down immediately.
"the fagnoglin"  Moray Mac Gill Fhaolain MP Aberdeen North 1964-Present

1973-1974 Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
1976-1978 Secretary of State for Transport
1978-1979 Secretary of State for Scotland
1979-1987 Shadow Secretary of State for Workers and Pensions
1992-Present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Constitutional Affairs & Devolution

fmrly Sean Kapur fmr. Shadow Minister of Environment, Housing, and Ag 
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#4
Madam Speaker, I never thought I would find myself in agreement with a Labour Member of this Chamber....let along the Member for Aberdeen North.

This Bill will in effect bring instability and insecurity to the British electoral system. With our current system the people are guaranteed to get the government they elected, and not one that is brought in through the backdoor by a third minority party. I, for one, would not want to see a coalition of chaos.....possibly headed by the Liberal Democrats....comprising of those parties that on the fringes of the British political system.
Philippa "Pippa" Mountjoy MP
Conservative MP for Woking (1970 - Present)
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#5
Mme. Speaker,

There are so many things wrong about the statement from the member from Aberdeen North. It is clear that he is not interested in having a thoughtful debate, but rather sought refuge in weak and baseless arguments. However, unfortunately, I expect to see more of these arguments so let us discuss why each of his assumptions is false.

First, he begins his argument by stating that the will of the people is expressed perfectly well right now. The Right Honorable member could not be more wrong. Under the current system his party won the national vote with 38.9% of the vote. Not a bad showing. Under the STV model of voting that this referendum would call for the Labour Party would have won 253 seats in Parliament. Not a bad showing and certainly would have put them in a strong position to form a governing coalition. However, instead under our non proportional system Labour was able to eke out a small majority of 329. That's not the will of the people. A majority of Britons did not vote for Labour, a strong plurality did, but not a majority. And yet because of the inherently non proportional system of elections in which we currently have Labour was able to create a Government absent the will of the majority of Britons.

Second, he argues that somehow this is an underhanded attempt by the Liberal Democrats to gain power faster. I'd like to thank him for his vote of confidence in our ability to win elections moving forward, however, once again the Right Honorable Member is still wrong about a few pieces of his argument. Liberal Democrats campaigned on this promise. It was in our manifesto, it was discussed on the campaign trail. So somehow suggest that we hid our intentions only to trot them out now is disingenuous. Now it is true that if we had the STV system that was reflective of the national will Liberal Democrats would have won 120 seats in the last election which is certainly up from the 25 we currently control. However, that is based on the will of the people as well because if the 1987 and 1992 elections had both used the proportional system that we are arguing for today the Liberal Democrats would have lost 27 seats. Now perhaps I'm not as savvy as some, but generally to gain power one has to win seats not lose them in elections. This is not about Liberal Democrats conniving to steal an election it's about our elected leadership representing the real will of the British people.

Third, the Gentleman talks about more parties as if coalitional governments have never been a thing anywhere in the world. Plenty of nations have more proportional systems. Some of them see one party governments, some of them see multi-party governments. And they have done so perfectly fine for quite awhile. Now if the Labour Party is not capable of negotiating a coalition agreement to form a government when they have a plurality of votes under the STV system, well that's their problem not mine.

Fourth, the member opposite raises the bogeyman of a complicated system. Yes, so complicated that the Australian Senate, Cleveland, Ohio city elections and other places. It's sad that he does not believe that the British people know how to rank candidate choices, but I have full faith in our fellow citizens. As to spoiled ballots there would be guidelines on this through legislation if the referendum were to pass. This is a false argument that is not based in reality, but rather couched in a cynical view of the ability of the average British voter. A view, I might add, that the Liberal Democrats do not hold.

Finally, if the Gentleman is so confident that the voters do not desire a more proportional, a more fair system of elections than what is the harm in having a referendum. He will be thoroughly vilified, I shall be castigated and we will truly know the will of the British people. But I do not believe that the Gentleman opposite is making that argument in good faith. Rather he knows that the British people want and deserve a more democratic system of elections. And he knows that there is a very real chance for the two parties to lose. And so he will vote against because he knows that the British people do not agree with him so why risk it. It's disingenuous, it's unfair, and it's not right for the British people. I hope that others will see the logic in this referendum and discard the failed arguments offered by the Gentleman from Aberdeen North.
Philip Porter
MP for Orkney and Shetlands (1983-Present)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1992-Present)
Liberal Democrats Spokesman for the Treasury (1992)



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#6
Madame Speaker,
The gentlemen wished for substantive examples of issues to solve which his bill doesn't and so here they are, first the difficulty of counting ballots. Madame Speaker, unlike now where we can easily hand count votes under the current method we instead would have to use various computers and programs to sort out who was receiving what votes and have to go on to do more between 5-6 rounds of vote counting along with eliminating candidates and determining who gets what votes. Which would be expensive as well as a waste of time Madame Speaker. Also Madame Speaker, the gentlemen talks about how the current system is rigged in favor of the largest two parties, yet when Ireland used his model they rigged it to favor the largest parties. Also, Madame Speaker as Britain has a great many political parties with broad appeal it will be hard for anyone to win or come close to winning on the 1st choice ballot, and on the other hand in areas where there would only be 2 or 3 candidates running it would make no sense to use this method in those constituencies as the present method represents them fine. So Madame Speaker to conclude this method is incredibly complex and costly to try and implement with no plans laid out to do so, and can still be manipulated to cause the issues the Liberal Democrats believe we have now.
"the fagnoglin"  Moray Mac Gill Fhaolain MP Aberdeen North 1964-Present

1973-1974 Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
1976-1978 Secretary of State for Transport
1978-1979 Secretary of State for Scotland
1979-1987 Shadow Secretary of State for Workers and Pensions
1992-Present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Constitutional Affairs & Devolution

fmrly Sean Kapur fmr. Shadow Minister of Environment, Housing, and Ag 
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#7
Mme. Speaker,

I did not know that having a government that reflects the majority will of the constituents was a waste of time. It truly says something about this Government that they are not willing to ensure that a majority of their constituents have their voices heard accurately. Truly it is disheartening.

While I am glad that the Gentleman opposite is willing to acknowledge that he believes this referendum will succeed once again he showcases a startling lack of knowledge. First of all, even under the current single member constituencies that we have an MP can be elected via a plurality rather than a majority. That means that the majority will of the constituency is not being represented. And by moving to multi-member electoral districts we can ensure that these districts elect the proportional number of members of parliament to reflect the express will of the people living there.

Second, we will have to update our election system. That will probably including moving to computers. I did not know that make sure we as a nation had a reliable, accurate, and efficient voting system would be such a burden for Labour which has up till now never found a piece of spending they didn't love. What a disingenuous argument. We will need to ensure that our voting systems keep up, this referendum, if it passes, would not incur a cost we would not already be spending.

Third, we have seen in the Australian Senate and others that yes, minor parties do win seats. But, for example, in the Australian Senate, control of the chamber has never not gone to one of the major parties. To suggest that some minor party would be vaunted to Number 10 is frankly absurd and reliant upon a fact free argumentative style.

To the member from Woking my only reply is that it appears that the British people prefer Liberal Democrat ideas over Tories which would explain her fearmongering.

This is not a debate on the ideas and values of this bill and the referendum it calls for. This is scare tactics and fear mongering dress in parliamentary language. No legitimate argument has been put forth about why we should not adopt a proportional system of determining our elected leaders. No one has stood in the chamber and argued facts about why they believe we should not ensure that every voice is heard and no vote is wasted. Instead we've heard trembling voices and Halloween inventions so devoid of facts it's astonishing.
Philip Porter
MP for Orkney and Shetlands (1983-Present)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1992-Present)
Liberal Democrats Spokesman for the Treasury (1992)



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#8
Madam Speaker, from where does the Member for Orkney and Shetlands get the idea that the majority of the UK's constituents want electoral reform? If that were the case surely they would have elected him and his Party into Government.

I hate to break it to him, Madam Speaker, they didn't. More than they didn't elect us Conservatives into power, they voted the other lot. So I would be interested to know where he gets his statistics from.
Philippa "Pippa" Mountjoy MP
Conservative MP for Woking (1970 - Present)
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#9
Madame Speaker,

I would preface by making it clear that I have a huge deal of respect for the Right Honourable Gentleman for Orkney and Shetlands. Which is why I would expect him to use opposition day bills more productively. 

I'm sure we all have our passionate views on electoral reform. If the Right Honourable Gentleman for Orkney and Shetlands so wishes, I could entertain him with mine. But he implores us to discuss the benefits of have a referendum on the issue or not, although curiously he says this after trying to debate the merits of electoral reform. 

Madame Speaker, there is currently no demand for a referendum on this issue. Referendums should only be entertained should the issue be constitutional - and I grant the Honourable Gentleman that this issue is, and that there is evidence of the British people wanting to discuss this issue. Such was the case on the referendum on the EC, or the upcoming referendums on devolution in Scotland and Wales: in both cases, we knew from the political atmosphere and from the results of the General Election that there was a mandate from the British people that such a debate is to be held.

If we look at the results of the General Election we know such a desire is not there. The British people overwhelmingly voted for parties that believe that the current electoral system is most effective. The British people voted for a strong government able to properly pursue an agenda with conviction and principle. The British people voted for a system that ensures accountability - that governments are more often than not elected on a clear manifesto that they can implement. The British people voted for a politics that remains local. 

On the more technical details of the bill, the Right Honourable Gentleman only offers one electoral system that the British people can change to. Why, Madame Speaker? There are a host of electoral systems. I could spill out a whole alphabet soup of them, each coming with a variety of perceived advantages and disadvantages. Why should the people of the country, who do not want a referendum anyway, be confronted with an arbitrary choice just outlined by the Liberal Democrat leader, and him alone? What if there is a system that may prefer to the SVT system? Why should they be restricted from another choice?

Madame Speaker, the Right Honourable Gentleman parrots the Tories he seeks to electorally supplant so effectively by talking about spending programmes the Labour Party don't love. I say there are no metropolitan, out of touch hobby horses the Liberal Democrats don't love. And this is one of them. With such an ineffective Opposition I would expect the Liberal Democrats to act as good opposition voices - to discuss the issues people up and down this country are concerned about: the absurdly high crime rate, the dangerous unemployment rate and a variety of other issues this government seeks to address. Instead, they want to waste this House's time discussing theoretical electoral systems and referendums, so that they could waste the British people's time and money having a referendum on an issue so many of them feel is not needed to be discussed. I think that, Madame Speaker, is a shame.
Labour
MP for Hartlepool (1983-Present). 
Shadow Minister for Social Security (1987-1990). 
Shadow Chief Whip (1990-1992). 
Home Secretary (1992-Present).

"I hear you really care about Europe. Well, that's alright, as long as you remember I really care about the Labour Party." - James Callaghan.

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#10
Madam Speaker,

This is not a refererendum on electoral reform. This is a referendum on the Liberal Democrat's chosen voting system - a system, no doubt, that they believe would benefit themselves at a General Election. If this was a true referendum on electoral reform the question would not be whether one chooses STV as a method, but does one want an alternative system, or what system does one want.

I also find the idea of a multi-member constituency quite displeasing. Our citizens are used to having one MP that represents them - does he have any evidence that our constituents want more than one MP to represent them?
MP For Hexham 1987 -
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#11
Mme. Speaker,

Who did the Member consult on this bill? And what can he tell us about cost of the switch to the Electoral Commission?
Rt. Hon. Agnes Hamstead
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1992 - Present)
Labour | Copeland (1987 - Present)
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