The Coalition’s mid-term constitutional plans

It’s been a furiously busy two years of constitutional news: from the AV referendum and failed Lords reform to elected Police Commissioners and fixed-term parliaments. But now with the Coalition reaching mid-point in this parliament what constitutional issues will be raised in the run-up to 2015?

The downgrading of Chloe Smith’s role from that of her predecessor’s indicates that the Coalition will be placing less priority on parliamentary and constitutional reform, but there still remain huge constitutional matters that will be addressed before the end of this parliament.

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11th January 2013

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ARCHIVE: Government hits referendum target

[First Published on Thursday 17th February 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

A binding referendum will be held on May 5th to decide whether to change the voting system to the Alternative Vote.

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill received royal assent last night, in time for the programmed referendum date.

While the Lords voted twice to require a minimum 40% turnout in order for the referendum result to be binding, the amendment was overturned by a Commons majority of 68.

Also removed from the final Bill was Lord Pannick’s amendment increasing the amount by which constituencies will be permitted to vary from the national quota.

The most significant government concessions are the special consideration given to the Isle of Wight and the provision for public hearings on boundary review proposals, both of which made it onto the statute book.

The asymmetrical nature of the Bill means that the provisions relating to the reduction in the number of MPs and the redrawing of constituency boundaries will take effect in 2015 regardless of the result of the referendum on AV.  A ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, however, will only lead to a change in the voting system once boundary changes have been implemented.

ARCHIVE: The Politics of Electoral Reform

[First Published on Friday 30th July 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

On 22nd July 2010 a bill was introduced in Parliament providing for a referendum on the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons and a reduction in the number of MPs, together with an equalisation of the sizes of constituencies.  The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill provides for an asymmetrical linkage between these two sets of proposals:

  • Assuming the Bill is passed, the boundary changes take effect at the time of the next general election whatever the result of the referendum
  • Even if there is a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, Alternative Voting will not be introduced unless the boundary changes have been made. Alternative Voting is explained in more detail here.

Is a referendum even necessary?

There is no constitutional precedent which suggests that a referendum is required to change the voting system for the House of Commons. In the first half of the 20th century there were two separate attempts (in 1917-18 and 1929-30) at legislation to introduce a form of AV. Both attempts ultimately failed, but neither the supporters nor the opponents of these measures believed that a referendum was required.

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ARCHIVE: AV or not AV? Resources to help you decide

[First Published on Wednesday 6th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

THE DATE:

Thursday 5 May 2011.

WHO CAN VOTE:

You can vote if you;
(1) are over 18 over on 5 May 2011
(2) are registered to vote and
(3) are either a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Irish Republic resident in the UK.

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ARCHIVE: Alan Renwick rebuffs exaggerated claims

[First Published on Tuesday 26th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Speaking to The Constitution Society, Dr Alan Renwick, described the Alternative Vote and First Past the Post as “two variants of the same electoral system” and highlighted the complexity of the underlying notion that the UK is in need of electoral reform.

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Chris Nicholson – AV would give voters more choice

[First Published on Monday 18th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

First Past the Post “isn’t delivering clear representation of people in the country”, argues Chris Nicholson, Chief Executive of Centre Forum, the liberal think tank. “We need reform to give voters more choice”.

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ARCHIVE: Neil Kinnock: FPTP is fundamentally flawed

[First Published on Tuesday 12th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Lord Kinnock recently spoke to The Constitution Society about his support for AV and his reaction to the negativism of the no campaign in the lead up to the referendum on May 5th.  Here we report his thoughts.

The reality of multiparty politics, is, Neil Kinnock asserts, “evident” now and for future generations. The use of First Past the Post in this type of political system is “fundamentally flawed”.

The current situation of political parties being given 100% of the power for less than 40% of the vote is not “sustainable, proportionate or acceptable”.

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Baroness Hayter defends First Past the Post

[First Published on Tuesday 5th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Ahead of May’s referendum on the Alternative Vote, Labour peer Baroness Hayter argued this week that First Past the Post is the right electoral system for the UK.  Any change would have unknown consequences and a change to AV would obscure the link between people’s votes and the parties in power.

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Peter Hain “strongly in favour of electoral reform”

[First Published on Wednesday 6th April 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

“Strongly in favour of electoral reform but against the loss of the single-member constituency under PR, Peter Hain is certain of the merits of AV; “It retains the single member but makes sure that member has majority local support.”

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Leading academic lambasts AV

[First Published on Friday 19th November 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Simon Hix, professor in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, has strongly criticised the Coalition’s proposals for electoral reform in an interview with The Constitution Society.

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