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Steve
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Member A-team
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 283
10/05/2019 10:18 pm  

Reform Bill

The following amendments have been made to the Bill:

  • "that in part 3, section 7) subsection 1) is amended to read "The powers of the Cornish Assembly shall be equal to those devolved to the National Assembly for Wales after the 1997 referendum."
  • "that in part 2, section 5) is amended to create subsection (5), which shall read "No candidate or party in any Senate region shall receive any Senators unless they win a minimum of 3.5% of the regional vote."
  • "Part 1; Section 1; Clause 4 is amended to read: Constituencies and local authority wards shall elect Members of Parliament and councillors in general/local elections and by-elections by means of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system if approved by a public referendum to be set out in regulations laid before the House"

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Andy
 Andy
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11/05/2019 3:24 pm  

Robert Emmett, Baron Emmett of Aldenham (Conservative)

Image result for Lord Nash

 

My Lords, I beg to move the amendments in my name on the Order Paper.

 

My Lords,

 

There are a number of Bills we receive from the Other Place that demonstrate just why your Lordships' House is so critical as a revising chamber. Why it is so vital to be removed from the political considerations of electioneering and so important to contain members with expertise. It is ironic that this Bill itself is one such Bill. My Lords, this Bill is bloated, riven with bad law and worse policy. I have, for the Government's benefit, tabled a modest number of amendments, which I hope will correct these flaws.

 

Amendment 1 deals with the size of the Other Place. The Government have no mandate for a reduction in the number of members, nor any such manifesto commitment. Furthermore, the Electoral Commissions are already receiving a substantial burden under this Bill. I therefore propose maintaining the current size of the Other Place, whilst still providing to the Electoral Commissions the flexibility to decide otherwise if necessary.

 

Amendment 2 considers the constituency size under the Single Transferable Vote. While I disagree with that system, about which I could speak at great length, I believe the Government are implementing the change in an injudicious manner, and that this is something we can improve upon here. In restricting the 'district magnitude' to three or four, the Government are unnecessarily compressing the system. Three other countries use STV for national elections, and all use larger constituencies. The Irish Dáil uses constituencies of between three and five, Malta uses five seat constituencies and the Australian Senate has six seats per state. Furthermore, the academic literature is clear that larger districts provide more proportional results. That being the Government's purported desire, I'm sure they will have no concerns with increasing the maximum number of seats for a constituency to a figure better in line with international experience.

 

This brings me to the last of my amendments in relation to the electoral system. With my Amendment 3, I hope to help the Government fulfil a manifesto commitment and election promise. The Labour Manifesto reads: “Any constitutional change beyond that to which we have committed in our manifesto”, and indeed my Lords, there was no such manifesto commitment to changing the electoral system, “would be approved by a public referendum , in which a plurality of voters in each of the United Kingdom’s four constituent countries would need to signal approval.” The Government have already signalled that they would support a referendum to determine whether to proceed. This amendment would allow them to keep the remainder of that promise: a nation lock to ensure such constitutional change is warranted.

 

Similarly, Amendment 4 provides for a referendum with a nation lock on another constitutional matter: the franchise. This is again a constitutional matter, with no supporting manifesto commitment from the Labour Party, no reference in the coalition agreement and no mandate. In order that the electorate have a say on this matter, in line with Labour's pledge regarding constitutional matters, I seek the help the Government fulfil that promise of a referendum.

 

We now proceed the the amendments I have tabled as regards Part 2, on the subject of your Lordship's House. First, Amendment 5 provides for a proportion of appointed members in a new Senate. This would enable such a body to continue to benefit from the expertise of the likes of the Noble Lord, Lord Winston and the Noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and of course of many, many other Noble Lords. The amendment would task the Appointments Commission with the task of filling any vacancies that arise in such an appointed cohort, taking into consideration expertise and party representation. Your Lordship's House has never voted for a wholly-elected replacement chamber, and has rightly always demanded a substantial appointed membership to ensure its continued benefits from some of the nations greatest minds.

 

Amendment 6 is a straight-forward one. I believe that First Past the Post is a far superior electoral system to the Party List. I believe that is particularly so when used in conjunction with my Amendments 8 and 9, which I shall speak to shortly. I would therefore wish to test the opinion of your Lordship's House on that matter.

 

With Amendment 7 I seek a modicum of equitable treatment. At present, the Bill places a level of burden upon a prospective independent candidates which it does not seek to place on candidates representing political parties. I believe that such a position is neither fair nor reasonable, and so I propose to apply that same rule to all candidates. If the Government wish to remove this provision instead, then I would not seek to press this amendment.

 

Amendment 8 alters the pattern of Senate elections. Rather that a region participating in a Senate election only once every nine years, instead every part of the country would be involved in every Senate election, every three years. This prevents a number of undesirable scenarios. Consider the scenario where a Senate election falls on the day of an election to the Other Place, with the result of affecting turnout in such a way as to alter the outcome, affecting the make-up of your Lordships' House for close to a decade. Consider the scenario where a youngster is denied a Senate vote until the age of 27, simply because of the area in which he lives. These, my Lords, are aberrations that we need not create.

 

Amendment 9 creates a transitional arrangement, so that the rotating system of senatorial Classes can be entered into smoothly. My amendment would remove one third of us existing members after each election, rather than in a big bang. Evolution, not revolution, as the order of the day. The selection of those members to remain at each stage and those to leave would be made by the Appointments Commission, who would decide on the basis of attendance and on retaining a reasonable party balance.

 

I shall now take a few of my amendments together, news which will no doubt cheer some Noble Lords. Amendments 10 and 11 take matters that have, wrongly, been written into primary legislation and instead return them to their proper place, in the Standing Orders of your Lordship's House. The election of our Speaker is a matter for us, my Lords. We should decide the manner in which we want to approach that. The appearance of representatives of Her Majesty's Government similarly. We should choose how and when and why they appear, not have a timetable written into legislation by the Other Place. My amendments correct this.

 

Amendments 12 and 13 concern the nature of the balance between your Lordship's House and the Other Place. One of many criticisms of an elected Senate is that it will be emboldened to challenge the Other Place, being similarly able to claim a popular mandate, resulting in the sort of blockage, delay and gridlock we often see in the United States. The United Kingdom is isolated from such a threat by the Parliament Acts. To repeal them now would be to interfere in the balance of power at the most inopportune time.

 

Amendment 14 makes the abolition and replacement of your Lordship's House contingent on the plans receiving the support of the electorate. Similarly Amendment 15 requests the same for the people of Cornwall in respect of their proposed Assembly. Scotland and Wales were consulted before devolution; I see no reason not to follow the same procedure. Indeed, nor do the Government. The Labour manifesto called for “consultations of both in-favour and opposed local groups”, of which we have seen no evidence, prior to “a referendum on further Cornish powers”.

 

With Amendment 16, I seek to correct the anomaly that this Bill will result in two Cornwall-wide levels of governance. Cornwall Council, as I'm sure you are aware, my Lords, is a unitary authority covering the whole of Cornwall. As such this will be the first devolved body representing a single local authority area. I therefore propose the abolition of the unitary authority and the transfer of its powers to the Assembly.

 

Amendment 17 is again to ascertain the view of the public on a matter in neither governing party's manifesto, nor in the coalition agreement. The Government have no mandate to seek the replacement of county and district councils with unitary authorities, neither from the electorate nor from councils or councillors. This amendment would allow local people to decide the structure of their local authorities.

 

Finally, my Lords, Amendment 18. The current wording would allow portions of the Bill to come into force before they are ready to be implemented. This is patently absurd, and is precisely the type of shoddy drafting from the Other Place that we are increasing required to tidy up as constitutional bills come through without the opportunity for proper scrutiny. My amendment resolves this by allowing each Part to only enter into force when they are ready.

 

My Lords, this is a bad Bill. It implements policies that are wrong-headed, and clearly thrown together in a rush. It omits safeguards that had previously been promised, and makes a number of poor implementation decisions. I have made my own modest contribution to the effort to provide scrutiny of the legislation, and attempt to clear up the more egregious issues. I hope the Government and you, my Lords, find my efforts beneficial, and as such a commend my amendments to the House.

 

Amendment 1

In Part 1, Section 1(2), replace the figures with 650, 675 and 625 respectively

 

Amendment 2

In Part 1, Section 1(3), strike “four” and insert “six”

 

Amendment 3

Insert new clause Part 1, Section 2: “Sections 1(1) to 1(5) of this Part shall only come into force if approved by a referendum. The referendum only provides approval if there are more votes in favour than against in all four nations of the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State shall lay Regulations regarding the date, question and conduct of such a referendum.”

 

Amendment 4

Insert new clause Part 1, Section 3: “Sections 1(6) and 1(7) of this Part shall only come into force if approved by a referendum. The referendum only provides approval if there are more votes in favour than against in all four nations of the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State shall lay Regulations regarding the date, question and conduct of such a referendum.”

 

Amendment 5

In Part 2, Section 4(1), insert “(f) 200 Senators appointed by the House of Lords Appointments Commission”.

In Part 2, Section 4(2), strike “or appointed”.

Insert new clause Part 2, Section 4(2B): “When appointing members under Section 4(1)(f), the House of Lords Appointments Commission shall have particular regard towards candidates providing knowledge and expertise in specialised subjects, and towards the balance of party affiliations with consideration to recent Senate elections.”

 

Amendment 6

Strike Part 2, Section 5(1), and insert “Elections to the Senate shall use First Past The Post.”

In Part 2, Section 10, strike from “resign” to end, and insert “, a by-election shall be held.”

 

Amendment 7

In Part 2, Section 6, strike from start to “meet”, and insert “Any person seeking to be a candidate for Senate election must”.

 

Amendment 8

In Part 2, Section 7, strike from “classes” to end, and insert “one of which is to be elected at each election, without regard to nation or region.”

 

Amendment 9

In Part 2, Section 8(3), strike from “cover” to end and insert “Class Three Senators.”

Insert new clause Part 2, Section 8(3A): “Members of the House of Lords at the date of Royal Assent of this Act shall exceptionally retain membership of the Senate until the end of the transitional phase. The transitional phase shall last the period of three Senate elections. One third of the members so exempted shall cede their seats after each Senate election. The House of Lords Appointments Commission shall determine which exempted members shall cede at each stage, and must have regard to party affiliation balance and attendance in so determining.”

 

Amendment 10

In Part 2, Section 9, strike (2) and (3) and insert “(2) The Speaker of the Senate shall be elected in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Senate.”

 

Amendment 11

In Part 2, Section 11, strike from “questions” to end, and insert “at such time and in such manner as is in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Senate.”

 

Amendment 12

Strike Part 2, Section 12

 

Amendment 13

Strike Part 2, Section 13

 

Amendment 14

Insert new clause Part 2, Section 15: “This Part shall only come into force if approved by a referendum. The referendum only provides approval if there are more votes in favour than against in all four nations of the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State shall lay Regulations regarding the date, question and conduct of such a referendum.”

 

Amendment 15

Insert new clause Part 3, Section 8: “This Part shall only come into force if approved by a referendum. The referendum only provides approval if there are more votes in favour than against in the county of Cornwall. The Secretary of State shall lay Regulations regarding the date, question and conduct of such a referendum.”

 

Amendment 16

Insert new clause Part 3, Section 9: “The unitary authority of Cornwall Council is hereby abolished. All powers, rights and responsibilities of Cornwall Council shall be transferred to the Cornish Assembly.”

 

Amendment 17

Insert new clause Part 4, Section 2: “This Part shall only apply to a local authority if approved by a referendum in that local authority area. The referendum only provides approval if there are more votes in favour than against in that local authority area. The Secretary of State shall lay Regulations regarding the date, question and conduct of any such referendums.”

 

Amendment 18

In Part 5, Section 1, strike from “implementation” to end.


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Andy
 Andy
(@adminandy)
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Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 43
27/05/2019 5:47 pm  

Lord Speaker

 

Clear the Bar

 

The Lords, having voted, return

 

Lord Speaker

 

There have voted...

 

Amendment 1 (Retain number of MPs at 650)

Content: 352

Not Content: 114

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 2 (Increase maximum size of STV constituencies to 6)

Content: 295

Not Content: 182

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 3 (Referendum on voting system)

Content: 412

Not Content: 67

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 4 (Referendum on voting age)

Content: 322

Not Content: 159

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 5 (Retention of some appointed Lords)

Content: 317

Not Content: 162

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 6 (First Past the Post for Lords elections)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 7 (Requirements for candidates)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 8 (Classes of Lords not split by geography)

Content: 281

Not Content: 203

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 9 (Classes of Lords phased in)

Content: 363

Not Content: 121

So the Contents have it

 

Amendment 10 (Election of Lord Speaker)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 11 (Question Time)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 12 (Retain Parliament Act 1949)

Content: 147

Not Content: 324

So the Not Contents have it

 

Amendment 13 (Retain Parliament Act 1911)

Content: 192

Not Content: 289

So the Not Contents have it

 

Amendment 14 (Referendum on Lords reform)

Content: 223

Not Content: 255

So the Not Contents have it

 

Amendment 15 (Referendum on devolution to Cornwall)

Voice vote Content

 

Amendment 16 (Abolish Cornwall Council)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 17 (Referendum in council areas to be reformed)

Withdrawn

 

Amendment 18 (Date of implementation)

Voice vote Content

 

Third Reading

Voice vote Content

 

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.


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Andy
 Andy
(@adminandy)
Member A-team
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 43
27/05/2019 6:01 pm  

Consideration of Lords Amendments

 

Mr Speaker

 

Order. I must acquaint the House that the Other Place has returned the Reform Bill to this House with amendments, namely:

  • Amendment 1 (Retain number of MPs at 650) [[The A-Team politely requests that this amendment be accepted, otherwise it's very difficult for us to draw the new constituencies]],
  • Amendment 2 (Increase maximum size of STV constituencies to 6),
  • Amendment 3 (Referendum on voting system),
  • Amendment 4 (Referendum on voting age),
  • Amendment 5 (Retention of some appointed Lords),
  • Amendment 8 (Classes of Lords not split by geography),
  • Amendment 9 (Classes of Lords phased in),
  • Amendment 15 (Referendum on devolution to Cornwall), and
  • Amendment 18 (Date of implementation).

 

Colleagues may wish to avail themselves of documentation from the House of Commons Library on the applicable rules for this stage of our proceedings.

 

I now call a minister to move the necessary motions.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by Andy

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Ariadne "Ari" Suchet
(@ege)
Member
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 107
01/06/2019 9:54 am  
  • I beg to move that this House agrees with the Lords in their Amendments 1, 18
  • I beg to move that this House disagrees with the Lords in their Amendments 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 15 

The Rt Hon Ariadne "Ari" Suchet MP
Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras
The Prime Minister
Leader of the Labour Party

Parliamentary: 9
Media: 28 Novice (19 base +1 Media I/ +4 Media IV /+2 for Leader's Debate/+1 for Press Cycle 11/+1 for Press Cycle 12 )
Policy: 9

"TrashPotato Today at 2:11 AM
my friend offered me a bottle of vodka and i sucked the vodka out the bottle like a baby sucking a titty"


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Andy
 Andy
(@adminandy)
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02/06/2019 10:24 am  

Mr Speaker

 

Thank you. Order!

((These motions may now be debated here))


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Bertie
(@tonybcwilson)
Anthony B.C. Wilson MP
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 89
02/06/2019 9:19 pm  

It appears that my strongest urgings have gone unnoticed by the Prime Minister, again, it is disappointing that there is, for all the melodrama of a coalition of 'compromise', absolutely none from the government. Whilst I am pleased that they have stepped down their meddling in the affairs of the Electoral Commission, the amendments accepted are not enough. The Prime Minister makes a grave error in her moves today and I warn that she must keep both sides of this coalition happy, not just our lords and masters [dismissively pointing to the far Liberal Democrat benches], but also her own two hundred and eighty-four loyal Labour members of parliament. The actions of this frontbench, Mr Speaker, are threat to our democracy and grab power from the British people. This is clear contempt for the British people, contempt for our upper house, contempt for our democracy, contempt for Labour commitments. This is a shameful move to push the public out of politics and let the Liberal Democrats play with people’s services, jobs and lives. If the Prime Minister is going to ignore the growing discontent from the Labour benches, she may be better standing as the leader for the Liberal Democrats on Wednesday, rather than the leader of whom the electorate to govern in accordance to our, and her, commitment to a referendum. As is now customary, this will fall on deaf ears, Mr Speaker, and as such I ask one question; what is the Prime Minister afraid of? Put it to the people and let them reject it for us!

Anthony Bertram Charles Wilson, MP for Darlington.
Parliamentary: 11
Media: 24
Policy: 6


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Macmillan
(@dylan-macmillan)
MP for North East Bedfordshire
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 392
03/06/2019 9:31 pm  

Mr Speaker,

The Government's decisions today show each and every one of us here in this chamber that when the Government came out and spoke of compromise and listening to backbench concerns they actually meant nothing of the sort. The House of Lords have, in a bipartisan and constructive manner, passed nine amendments which will not destroy this bill but rather will make sure that it at least conforms with the manifesto of the Labour Party and that it has some semblance of a democratic mandate. The Prime Minister does not have a mandate for any of these reforms beyond the elected Senate, a feature of this bill that their Lordships accepted and kept, what she is doing here is simply giving the Liberal Democrats everything that they have ever wanted so that in return they can give her everything she has ever wanted. Mr Speaker this is a straight swap, the destruction of our constitution for four more years led by a Prime Minister who cannot even convince her own cabinet to show up in this chamber for half of the year and who cannot spellcheck a budget. This is nothing short of political cowardice and self-service.

Mr Speaker, whilst we are stood here debating electoral reform which was rejected four years ago and changes to the voting age this government are ignoring the pressing issues of our time. Our future is being mortgaged by a deficit that is climbing higher and higher under this chancellor, our country is getting less and less safe because we are not deporting our foreign-born criminals according to the National Audit Office itself, and fundamentalist Islamic Faith Schools are perverting the minds of our next generation by teaching such a twisted version of Islam that these schools are becoming radicalised favouring Shariah Law over British Law. Mr Speaker these are the issues that the Government should be getting to grips with, not wasting its time with constitutional trickery to try and enforce decades of Lab/Lib coalition rule upon this country.

Mr Speaker I think this debate is a waste of this House's time, but if it is a debate that the Government are insistent that we have then I will at least indulge their fantastical whims with a defence of the amendments that they so offhandedly rejected.

Mr Speaker the other place has provided us with a number of amendments, I am sure that it will come as no surprise to the House that I shall be supporting the vast majority of them. As I said the government has no mandate for these reforms, roughly one in every five or six of them was elected to pursue electoral reform with the other four or five pledging to put it to the people in a referendum, each and every one of those cabinet ministers has betrayed that mandate today. The people voted in 2011 to retain First Past the Post, the least this Government could do in telling the people that they got it wrong would be to put it back to them, but then this Government are all about telling the people that they are wrong never stopping to ask the people anything of any actual substance. Amendment 3 is critical to creating any form of democratic mandate for this government's short-sighted and dangerous agenda, I support it wholeheartedly and I urge all around this House to do so as well. Equally I urge support for the other referenda proposed by the other house in keeping with the Labour Party's own election manifesto commitment to poll the public on any constitutional reform, let alone issues as critical as the voting age and devolution in Cornwall.

This legislation Mr Speaker is a farce that needs to be thrown out of this chamber once and for all so that we can actually get down to debating the issues that really matter, radicalised education providers, spiralling deficits, and the deportation of those who take our nation's tolerance and hospitality for granted. Mr Speaker this bill, its handling, and the aftermath show just how desperate the Prime Minister is to keeping her coalition leaders in bed with her, there is no negotiation, there is no compromise, there is only the bill and a Lib Dem led determination to bulldoze it through whatever the cost. I will not stand for such obstinance Mr Speaker, and I urge the House of Commons to join me in rejecting it as well.

Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition

Prime Minister (2014)

Parliamentary Experience: Novice (21)
Media Experience: Capable (58)
Policy Experience: Novice (29)


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Steven Andrews
(@steven-andrews)
Member
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 60
04/06/2019 1:09 pm  

Mr. Speaker,
What we have before us, again, is a bill which is not what the people of this great country voted for by any stretch. As my colleague pointed out, in 2011 the voters were given a chance to cast their ballots as to whether or not to change our electoral system. Not only did they decline to do so, they declined to do so by a margin of more than two to one. It was not close, it was not even close to being close. It was a blowout.

Then in the last election, yes, Labour won the most votes and the most seats. Nobody disputes that. And Labour, in their manifesto, promised and I quote:

'Any constitutional change beyond that to which we have committed in our manifesto (which is therefore subject to the Salisbury convention) would be approved by a public referendum, in which a plurality of voters in each of the United Kingdom’s four constituent countries would need to signal approval.'

That is verbatim, Mr. Speaker. Yes, there are many elements in the bill from the Liberal Democrats' manifesto, but the voters did not vote for a government of the LibDems. Whatever we might say about the House of Lords reform, something that in the government's infinite wisdom they have rendered as an afterthought in this debate, more than eighteen million voters did not vote for the other elements of this bill. No sane interpretation of the Salisbury convention would cover those elements without a referendum, as promised in the manifesto of the Prime Minister's party.

While I understand that we are in a coalition situation, it seems as though the Government has taken that as a handy excuse to throw out their own manifesto. It is a gross perversion of constitutional convention to turn around and let the third-largest party's manifesto override the manifesto of the largest party. Yes, compromise is a thing, but the government made some very explicit commitments, millions of people voted for the government on the basis of those commitments, and here we are watching as those promises and pledges are cast aside. To be clear, this is not the only situation where the Government has pasted the Liberal Democrats' manifesto over their own, as often as not to patch a hole or two, but it is easily the most painfully obvious and troubling.

Now, it might have been one thing if the Government had simply cast those promises casually to one side, but The Other Place has called them on it and yet the Prime Minister is whipping her MPs to vote down their own manifesto promises on the one hand and has the gall to cite Salisbury at the same time on the other.

Mr. Speaker, one of the amendments, regarding the proposed Cornish assembly, is perhaps the most mind-boggling for the Government to oppose as not even the Liberal Democrats' manifesto made mention of forcing a new assembly into being where it was not asked for. This is not 'devolution on demand', it is 'devolution by diktat': Under the government's forced proposals, areas of Britain are going to see new layers of government foisted onto them whether they want it or not. This is all very brave and bold, Mr. Speaker. One might even speak to a certain variety of courage behind it.  At least Scotland and Wales got to have a say on their assemblies; apparently the voters of Cornwall, not being loyal Labour partisans, don't deserve the same consideration.

The Prime Minister has thrown her manifesto out the window, Mr. Speaker. She has instead decided to bundle a whole suite of sweeping Constitutional changes together in a single up-or-down bill and frog-marched her members into the lobby to force the issue. I cannot speak to her motives, but given her actions in government I do wonder if she shouldn't find a convenient orange rosette for the next election.  At the very least, no member on the government benches should feel any shame in the least in defying a whip which flies in the face of the manifesto under which they stood.

Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South

25 Policy/15 Media/14 Parliamentary


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General Goose
(@general-goose)
Member
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 174
05/06/2019 1:43 pm  

Mr Speaker,

Our electoral system is broken. We have a system of minority rule, that encourages polarisation, alienation, dissatisfaction, that leaves whole swathes of the country neglected in the electoral process and the true diversity of political opinion in this country suppressed. Countless votes are wasted - many more are distorted, through people feeling obliged to vote tactically, or to "hold their nose" and vote for the least bad option. Votes count differently, based on where you are and what sort of seat you're in. Mr Speaker, this can't stand. The link between the mandate given by the people and how power is utilised is almost irreparably strained under our current system. And it's just the same at the council level too - we do have some one-party councils in our nation, and that's rather distorted. 

So, by, as members of this house and the other place have requested, making a change to the much fairer Single Transferable Vote system - which unlike AV is a true system of effective proportional representation - we fix that. And, Mr Speaker, studies have found that if you move to a proportional voting system, you engender better outcomes in terms of peace, equality, political collaboration rather than polarisation. We can replace the broken first past the post system with a system that actually does promote stability, actually does give voters a say over the government of the day and the MP that represents them, and actually ensures votes count. 

This bill will also meet long-standing demands for a Cornish assembly, something that the region, with its unique character and need, has long argued for, as an essential first step along the road to fulfilling this government's commitment to decentralisation.

This bill will give young people at 16 and 17, who have as much a stake in our future as anyone else and already hold a multitude of responsibilities, duties and rights that are otherwise reserved for adults, a say in the future democratic decisions of our country. They pay taxes, can change their name by deed poll, can join the armed forces. This bill will protect the rights of expats to vote, ensuring that they do not lose their democratic say in the governance of their country after an arbitrary cut-off date or because they didn't vote before they moved. 

I think making such a core right as voting subject to referendum - with the binary choices and polarisation that that method of decision-making necessarily entails - sets a dangerous precedent, Mr Speaker. Making the right to vote subject to the approval of others is not democratic.

And Mr Speaker, we are not a democracy that sorts everything out through referendums. Why? Because referendums are a case where the government of the day sets a question, sets the answers, and then throws it to the people. It is not a means of decision-making that allows for nuance, that allows for the due consideration of rights and interests, that allows for deliberation and dialogue, that allows for fair scrutiny and fair play. When members of this house - and they know who they are - argue that only referendums "give people a say", they are sowing distrust in the foundation of the political institutions they seek to protect. 

Mr Speaker, the leader of the opposition wrote a part of this bill. That rarely happens with government legislation. These ideas have all been in circulation, have been debated, have been assessed and examined for years. They have been agreed upon in the coalition agreement. They have not, as some suggest, been rejected in referendums - that's just not true. There have been amendments, put forward in good faith, that have been accepted. If members who oppose this bill want an honest and forthright discussion about how to approve it, if they act in good faith, then the government has always been committed to making this process fair and workable and endurable. But look at the hyperbolic language, the extreme attacks.

Mr Speaker, the British people would be forgiven if they watched this debate and saw the vestiges of the failed broken two-party system, the beneficiaries of an electoral system that leaves millions unrepresented and hundreds of communities throughout this nation ignored and taken for granted, defending their privilege. Mr Speaker, their arguments have almost never been about the merits of this bill's contents, because they know they cannot win on that front. 

Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Education and Employment
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology

Parliamentary - 22
Media - 46
Policy - 26


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Ariadne "Ari" Suchet
(@ege)
Member
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 107
05/06/2019 2:20 pm  

Mr.Speaker, this bill achieves a lot for our country. We as a country can have a majority rule without a majority vote. Our previous governments has strong majorities in the commons without a majority vote in our country. This discrepancy has led an unrepresentative democracy, this government wants to ensure our governments are representatives of this country, all of this country, not just bare plurality among the parties. We have sought out compromises and we have successfully implemented them, we have a referendum on the STV and we surely have compromised more from the recommendations the Lords. What we are doing is what compromise is. Leader of the Opposition knows that but he chose to ignore that fact, his reform is a core part of this reform and he still calls it whatever misrepresentation suits his agenda Mr.Speaker, once again dithering away from a decision.

Frankly, I also want to address the speech made by the member from Darlington as well, it is a disappointing speech, Mr.Speaker. He employs dangerous tactics like doublespeak, accusing me of the same things that this bill addresses to solve and frankly betraying our Labour values and commitments. Labour has always supported electoral and Lords reform, he should know, he has stood under several manifestos supporting it. Proportional representation, good governance, empowering people, devolving power this has always been the Labour values, we are the party that has brought devolution to Wales and Scotland and we are the party that will bring it to Cornwall and other regions if they choose to, we will empower Wales and Scotland even more. We have set out an ambitious agenda for this country and we will achieve our commitments. Finally Mr.Speaker, if the member from Darlington feels that I have contempt for our democracy, for our Labour commitments, for the British people. He has an option, if he does not like what we are doing in Labour Party, he can resign. Nobody is forcing him to stay in the Labour Party. We in the Labour Party believe that everyone has a place in our party, as long as they follow our values and work for our party. I still want to believe member for Darlington is a follower of our values and works for our party, I certainly would like to see him in our party but once again, if he is not comfortable the position he is in, he knows his options. 

The Rt Hon Ariadne "Ari" Suchet MP
Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras
The Prime Minister
Leader of the Labour Party

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"TrashPotato Today at 2:11 AM
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Charles Kinbote
(@charles-kinbote)
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Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 54
05/06/2019 10:59 pm  

Mr. Speaker,

 

The Prime Minister's response to her own backbenchers who disagree with this legislation is to leave the Party if they do not disagree with her, and her policy. However, this was not Labour policy at the election. I understand that the Prime Minister thinks she can stand up here and demand that everybody fall behind her, and she doesn't want anybody to express their own opinions. If she won't listen to her own backbenchers who do not support this, will she at least support a referendum on all constitutional changes, outlined in this reform bill, that were not in her manifesto?

MP for Woking 2005 -

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Steven Andrews
(@steven-andrews)
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Posts: 60
06/06/2019 12:24 am  

Mr. Speaker, there are other points that I will go into more depth on later but there is a particular point that the Prime Minister made which I feel must be addressed as swiftly as possible. The Prime Minister stated, and I quote, "we have a referendum on the STV".  That is a direct quote from her speech just now. Amendment 3 would provide for that referendum. The Prime Minister, at the start of this debate, begged that the house should not adopt Amendment 3.

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am very very confused as to what the prime minister meant by that remark. She wishes to state that another of our members is engaging in double speak, but at a bare minimum she is engaging in the same. I might even contend that her remarks meet the bear technically of truth only insofar as the house has not yet granted her wish to vote down Amendment 3.  So it would seem to me, on viewing this situation in its totality, that the Prime Minister is attempting to either misdirect or buffalo her caucus and this House.

Mr. Speaker, I am very disturbed by this behavior in the context of the nature and import of this bill. We are looking at what is possibly the most dramatic and substantial constitutional reform in one go since at least 1832. There is a case to be made that it is the most sweeping change to the system in history. This is sort of a change needs to be made with due deliberation, and the Prime Minister's remarks do not assist the house in maintaining candor or approaching this with clear eyes. At the bare, bare minimum they are confusing and confounding. Whether this is their intention or not is, of course, an exercise for the listener... as is whether they go beyond simply being that and fall into being something more sinister.

Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South

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Steven Andrews
(@steven-andrews)
Member
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 60
06/06/2019 4:09 am  

Mr. Speaker,
To elaborate upon my previous remarks, the Prime Minister's criticism of almost everybody is poorly-founded. If the Prime Minister wishes to wag her finger at the elements of this bill that come from the Leader of the Opposition and then criticize him for not supporting the bill, perhaps she should ask whether or not there might have been support for a straight-up, stand-alone Lords reform? You know, like was in her party's manifesto? I see no clear reason that the Liberal Democrats or SNP would have opposed such a bill, even if they might have lamented it not going far enough, and it is indeed probable that there would have been some support from this side of the House.

Of course, instead of producing that she threw together a bill that not so much resembles coherent reform as it does an orange-tinted Christmas tree, which is arguably why we are here now.

Moving through her remarks, there is mention of being the party that will "bring [devolution] to Cornwall and other regions if they choose to, we will empower Wales and Scotland even more." Mr. Speaker, whether her party has an aspirational agenda regarding Scotland and Wales or not, the mention of those regions is an utter case of obiter dictum. There is absolutely nothing in this Act regarding either Scotland or Wales, and indeed I would oppose bunding such reforms in with this given the divergent nature of such reforms from the broader purpose at hand. Regardless, she has decided to wave invisible reforms before the House and hope that we will be awed. Well, Mr. Speaker, the Emperor has no such clothes to show, and likewise the PM has no such reforms.

That's just Scotland and Wales, of course. Her phrasing implies that Cornwall will receive devolution 'if they choose to'. That sounds suspiciously like a referendum, Mr. Speaker, and yet the Prime Minister is begging the House to vote down the inclusion of such a referendum in this Act. I must confess that I am rather at a loss here...did she completely forget her remarks earlier, or is she just saying whatever she has to such that she might make her own members confused and hope that she can hypnotize them into the proper lobby in the chaos? I must confess that these gross inconsistencies continue to concern and disturb me; they seem to be part of a pattern of behavior rooted in desperation.

Where do we go from here? How about her attack on the Member for Darlington, Mr. Speaker? I cannot help but paraphrase the Prime Minister's remarks as 'I have chosen to abandon the manifesto under which we stood at the last election, and if members who stood under that manifesto do not like that then they should leave the party'. At the last election, the Member for Darlington, and indeed all of his colleagues likewise, stood under a manifesto that stated explicitly that constitutional reforms aside from those affecting the Lords would be subject to a referendum. It is right there in the party's manifesto, so explicit that it should be given a Restricted 18 certificate.

If the Labour Party intended to push electoral reform outside of Lords reform, perhaps the Prime Minister's manifesto should have offered a hint of that? After all, it is not even as if she can blame a change in party leadership for the omission. I would also point out that support of electoral reform has not 'always' been a Labour item, and indeed where it has supported it that support has generally been qualified with the promise of a referendum. Looking over the Labour manifestoes of the last few decades, and setting aside the lack of any mention in 2001...

This was the case in 2010, when referendums were promised both on AV and on putative Lords reform.

This was the case in 2005 as well, when as I will quote "A referendum remains the right way to agree any change for Westminster."

This was the case in 2001 as well, when as I will quote from page 35 of the Labour manifesto, "A referendum remains the right way to agree any change for Westminster."

This was the case in 1997, when the manifesto stated "We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons." Are we perhaps sensing a theme, Mr. Speaker?

Continuing on, in 1992, Labour did not even promise to deliver on electoral reform, merely to produce recommendations for future reform, and prior to that I can find absolutely no mention of changing the electoral system in either 1987, 1983, or 1979.

The fact before the House is very simple: Labour has been, at most, committed to a referendum on electoral reform for forty years. In many years Labour did not even seriously consider electoral reform, leaving that particular issue to the Liberal Party or the Alliance at the time. The Prime Minister has chosen to unilaterally bin that approach without even approaching her party conference for support.

In the meantime, where Labour has been committed, on Lords reform, the Prime Minister has definitively muddled the question by tying it in with a whole bunch of other elements. It is not hard to envision someone who opposes the Lords as it stands but who also supports First Past the Post. It is also not hard to envision members feeling rather cheated at an artificial, forced pairing of two major reforms regardless of their support or opposition. Bundling major changes to the system is not what usually comes to mind when one envisions 'compromise', Mr. Speaker.

So for the Prime Minister to turn to a Member whose objections to the bill she is pushing are rooted in several decades of her party's manifestos and say that her position is the one that Labour has, and I quote her yet again, "always supported" is either historically ignorant or an attempt to obfuscate the record.

Taken as a whole, the Prime Minister has responded to objections to this legislation in its current form in a manner that is at best dubious and disingenuous. She has, whether by accident or intent, bent the historical record into an unrecognizable wreck, discarded the manifesto that she was elected under, and then told the House that those Members who stood under those manifestos and in the light of that record that if they do not like where she is going they should leave the party. Were this backed up by formal, express motions in her party we might accuse her of overly-aggressive democratic centralism...which of course, *never* ends badly.

Instead, lacking even that much consultation and apparently coming from her and her inner clique the term might well be 'autocratic centralism', where even a socialist committed to control of the commanding heights of the economy, the renationalization of the railways, or the support of the rights of labour, of minorities, and so on should either bow to her demands on any issue or leave the party.

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has exceeded her mandate and if she did not know it before then by now she should be cognizant of the fact. It borders on a farce that I seem to know more about her party's manifestoes than she does. Her handling of this proposal deserves no protection under any of the prevailing constitutional conventions, and if she wishes to proceed then she should write a new manifesto, call a new election, and see if the voters are on board. I think she knows what the answer would be, I think she knows that she won't like it, and frankly I think that she has resorted to all sorts of smoke and mirrors because the alternative is to admit that she would lose, and lose hard, if the people actually got a choice in the matter.

Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South

25 Policy/15 Media/14 Parliamentary


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Steven Andrews
(@steven-andrews)
Member
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 60
06/06/2019 4:35 am  

Mr. Speaker,
A brief adjustment to my prior remarks.  I reviewed two separate copies of the 2001 manifesto.  One included the same remarks as we saw in 2005, the other I could find no reference.  I included reference to both versions by accident, though I believe the latter situation to be correct.  In any event, I apologize for the lack of clarity, and neither version goes against my remarks...either the manifesto in question fundamentally promised a referendum on electoral reform or it made no mention of electoral reform.  Whatever it may have done, promising reform without a referendum was not on the table.

Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South

25 Policy/15 Media/14 Parliamentary


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