Publication: Press Release, New Politics Network (U.K.)
Title: MPs say elections none of public's business
Date: June 15, 2006
For the press release, click here.
The New Politics Network has criticised the House of Commons for voting against a proposal that would give the public greater say over the electoral system.
The Parliamentary and Local Elections (Choice of Electoral Systems) Bill would ensure that a referendum would be held on the electoral system at a local or national level if a significant number of citizens petitioned for one to be held. The alternative system proposed in the referendum would be chosen by the petitioners or could alternatively be determined by a Citizens Assembly of randomly chosen members of the public. The Bill was tabled by David Chaytor MP as a Ten Minute Rule Bill yesterday (13 June) and was rejected by the Commons (Ayes 72, Noes 168 - majority 94).
Commenting on the Commons vote, Parliamentary and Policy Officer Alexandra Runswick said:
"This Bill asserts a basic principle: that the electoral system should exist to suit the people not the politicians. By rejecting this Bill, MPs have brazenly asserted that it is none of the public's business.
"Andrew Turner MP's criticisms of the Bill were laughable. If he believes that electoral reform is only of interest to 'political anoraks' then why is he so afraid to put his theory to the test? Polling suggests that a majority of the public favour electoral reform.
"In law we already allow the public to call for a referendum on the creation of elected Mayors and parish councils; this Bill simply expands that principle. If the majority of MPs wish to continue to block such initiatives, they will have to come up with better arguments than the ones we heard yesterday."