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Progress on Parliamentary reform

November 16, 2010

Later today I will be in the Commons chamber for the detailed consideration of the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill.  This is another of the key constitutional reforms long argued for by the Liberal Democrats and now being implemented by the Coalition Government.   It will introduce 5 year fixed term Parliaments.  This essentially fixes the maximum life of a House of Commons between general elections.  It confirms the 5 year term laid down by the Parliament Act 1911 but crucially removes the right of Prime Ministers to call an early election at a time of their choosing.  I well remember being on red alert for a general election in October 2007, just two years and four months after I’d been elected.  In the end of course there was a full five year term.

Another key Parliamentary Bill, the one that paves the way for a reform on our voting system has now cleared its stages in the House of Commons.  Once the Lords have considered the Bill formal “Yes” and “No” campaigns will be launched.  Liberal Democrats will be making the case for a YES vote. I want to work with Labour and Green Party supporters and non aligned people in order to win a big YES vote in Bristol.

Informal campaigning and awareness raising is already underway in Bristol.  Last Saturday the Bristol Campaign for Fairer Votes had a stall at College Green.  It was good to work alongside my predecessor, Valerie Davey, Labour MP for Bristol West from 1997 to 2005. We will be campaigning together for the Alternative Vote – a small change that will make a big difference.  AV is as simple as 1,2,3 – you just rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than putting a cross next to one name.  Expect to hear a lot more about this in the run up to the referendum next May!  If you want to find out more please see

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 9:42 pm

    After almost 1 month away from blogging and your media appearances over the fees pledge it seems incredible that you return with this post and make no mention, justification or explanation of what your current position on fees is (after so many changes)

    The last month has seen you seriously criticised on BBC Bristol, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, the Evening Post and heckled by students at public meetings.

    Some time ago (despite your pledge) you said you had not made your mind up on whether you woudl support the £9,000 a year fees rise. Can you tell us if you have now made up your mind?

    Can you tell us whether you are sorry for making the tuition fees pledge?

    I hope for an adult response without any personalised attacks

    • Cllr Jon Rogers permalink
      November 16, 2010 11:40 pm

      There were three comments posted by Stephen earlier today concerning funding for higher education under the relevant heading. This is a thread on the welcome progress on parliamentary reform.

      • Joe permalink
        November 17, 2010 11:08 am

        Ah, you must be Stephen’s attack dog, now that he has realised that, if he comments of here, it turns into a car crash!

        Still, I don’t know why you’re helping him – from what I’ve heard, you’re desperate to get his seat after we oust him at the next election.

    • David permalink
      November 17, 2010 6:33 am

      @turningbristolred Shall we compare broken Labour promises from the last 13 years?

      Here’s a few:
      Promised referendum on the EU constitution.
      Promised referendum on electoral reform
      Not raising income tax.

      Broken promises, not when forced to by a coalition or economic circumstances, but broken promises simply because the Labour Party lie.

      • Joe permalink
        November 17, 2010 11:05 am

        Really? Are you a real person?

        I really hate the Lib Dems. They run this holier-than-thou election campaign, then think that other partied having broken promises in past vidicates them!

        -Tuition Fees
        -Nuclear power
        -Cuts this year

        Now, because the LDs don’t really have much to say, those were some of their clear pledges. Labour didn’t run any election campaign with those items as their raison d’etre.

        Toodle-oo, Lib Dems! Off to oblivion!

  2. November 17, 2010 8:17 am

    your parliamentary reform includes reducing the number of elected members and increasing the number of unelected Lords.

    In the general election you stood up for proportional representations, AV is not a proportional system what will you be doing to get the option of a proportional system on the referendum?

    When will you stand up for democracy?

  3. guriben permalink
    November 17, 2010 1:59 pm

    I really think you should resign. Voting for you was the biggest mistake I have made since getting into “that car” when I was 16.

  4. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 17, 2010 8:11 pm

    PR brings coalition government. Coalition government means compromise, yet when there is compromise some scream betrayal. Accept compromise or forget PR. If the Lib/Dems had gone into coalition with New Labour, those screaming now would have deafened us with their silence!

    • November 17, 2010 8:58 pm

      If we had gone into coalition with Labour then it is doubtful whether any progress would be made on electoral reform. There would have been no Commons majority for a Lib-Lab govt and a significant number of Labour MPs are against even the mild reform of AV. The Tories would have voted against.

    • David permalink
      November 17, 2010 10:52 pm

      Well said Paul Bemmy Down. I am not a LibDem and have voted for them only once, in 2005.

      If a LibDem has a pie-in-the-sky policy and, upon realising that, changes it to something that will benefit the country, that is adult behaviour.
      If the country is on the brink and its defaulting might create the world’s longest recession, two parties putting aside their differences and making enormously unpopular decisions in order to keep peace and prosperity, that is adult behaviour.

      “There is no money left”, calling the Coalition ConDems and harrassing MPs with nasty little presuppositions disguised as innocent questions, that is childish behaviour.

      And Paul Smith, as you well know, as part of the Coalition Agreement, LibDems will be whipped on tuition fees as they were on the referendum question. Given there is no chance whatsoever of us seeing STV in this country without first getting AV, getting another hung parliament and a suitably gullible PM for Clegg to trick a second time, what will you be doing to get a Yes vote in the referendum?

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