Constitutional Reform Bill

Date: Thu 26th August 2010

I will occasionally write about Bills passing through Parliament to seek your opinion.  One such Bill is the Constitutional Reform Bill which proposes Fixed Term Parliaments, a reduction and re-sizing of constituencies and a vote on the electoral system for electing MPs.

Fixed Term Parliaments will mean that the Prime Minister can no longer decide on the date of the General Election and an end to political advantage by choosing a date when the ruling party’s popularity is high.

The reduction and equalisation of seats element of the Bill means that there will be a reduction in the numbers of MPs from 650 to 600, thus saving millions of pounds.  This goes hand in hand with the re-drawing of boundaries to make equal sized constituencies.  It is also argued that there is an in-built structural bias for Labour against the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the current sizing as more votes are concentrated in the cities and less votes are needed to elect a Labour MP.

Changing our electoral system will be subject to a referendum, more than likely at next May’s council elections in England and to coincide with the devolved legislatures’ elections in Wales and Scotland. It is not a proportional system change but a choice between the current first-past-the-post system and the Alternative Vote (AV). AV means that you get to vote for a number of candidates, in order of preference, not just the one and those second, third and so on preferences are counted too.

Let me know what you think about these proposed changes and whether you think it will be beneficial to our democracy.