Government publishes AV referendum Bill

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Crown copyright22 July 2010

The question voters will be asked in next year’s referendum on the Alternative Vote system has been published for the first time as part of a new Bill on constitutional reform.

The Government today published the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which also sets out plans to reduce the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 MPs and review electoral boundaries to create more equal-sized constituencies.

The Bill makes detailed rules for the running of the referendum, which is set to take place on 5 May 2011 and will ask voters: 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?

It was introduced to the Commons for its first reading today alongside the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said:

With the introduction of these Bills, fundamental reform of our politics is finally on the way. The Coalition Government is determined to put power where it belongs – with people. You will decide how you want to elect your MPs. By making constituencies more equal in size, the value of your vote will no longer depend on where you live, and with fewer MPs the cost of politics will be cut. And, by setting the date that parliament will dissolve, our Prime Minister is giving up the right to pick and choose the date of the next General Election – that’s a true first in British politics.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill specifies that General Elections will occur every five years on the first Thursday in May, removing the power of the Prime Minister to call an election without Parliament’s consent in a bid to prevent a Government dissolving Parliament for its own political advantage.

General Elections will be held earlier if two thirds of all MPs vote in favour of dissolution or if there has been a vote of no confidence in a Government and an alternative Government fails to gain the confidence of the House of Commons within 14 days.

The second readings of the two Bills will take place after the summer recess.

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