by Paul Goodman
It's worth keeping an eye on the progress of the NAME bill – the measure that paves the way for a referendum on AV and a reduction in the number of Commons seats.
On Tuesday evening, Bernard Jenkin argued that the May 5 poll date should be moved – because some parts of the country are voting on that day while others aren't.
He said –
"The real reason for avoiding the combination of polls with referendums is fairness. Whatever the merits of combining referendums with elections throughout the referendum constituency, all voters should at least be treated the same. It is obvious from the date on the table at the moment that voters are being treated differently in different parts of the country."
He also attacked the Electoral Commission's volte-face on the matter –
"The quality of the commission's consultation and research has been lacking, which probably reflects the fact that most of its people have changed since 1992. However, the fundamental point about the paper is that it does not address substantively any of the arguments advanced in 2002 in favour of separate polls."
Edward Leigh, Julian Lewis, Eleanor Laing and Nick Boles also spoke from the backbenches during the debate, and the following Conservative MPs voted against the Government:
- Peter Bone
- Chris Chope
- Philip Davies
- Philip Hollobone
- Bernard Jenkin
- Dr Julian Lewis
- Mark Reckless
- John Redwood
- Richard Shepherd
Earlier this year, this vote, long-expected, was mooted to mark substantial number of Conservative MPs voting against the Government.