AV referendum bill ''delayed by Labour lords''
14 January 2011
Labour lords are said to be trying to stop in its tracks the bill on a referendum for an alternative voting (AV) system, the coalition government's offer to the electorate to give their views on whether the first-past-the-post system should be scrapped.
While the Liberal Democrats have said they want the vote to be a positive one – even though their preference is still full proportional representation – the Tories have indicated that while they support the idea of a referendum they will campaign for a 'no' vote on the AV issue.
The Conservatives are said to be planning on a three-day long debate on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill in an attempt to stop Labour lords sabotaging it. As well as AV, the bill deals with proposed changes to constituency boundaries (cutting the number of seats from 650 to 600) which some Labour MPs have said will make it harder for their party to win elections. However, if the referendum is to take place on 5 May – which will mean the bill will have to be passed by the middle of February – the boundary review section of the bill may have to be shelved because of the hold up by Labour peers.
However, the spokesperson for the Prime Minister David Cameron said that the government would not split the bill.
Labour's constitutional spokesman Lord Falconer said: "This government is trying to ram though this bill through in an arrogant way without proper scrutiny. We will do what the Lords are there to do."