The House of Lords has passed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – ‘Alternative Vote’ Bill, which began and completed its third reading on Monday 14 February. The Bill was returned to the House of Commons, which will consider all of the amendments made by the Lords today (Tuesday 15 February).
Members of the House of Lords voted against an amendment, introduced by Lord Falconer of Thoroton, which would have banned the screening of party election broadcasts containing images or implying support for any particular side in the referendum – planned for 5 May 2011 – on changing to an ‘alternative vote’ system for general elections. The referendum will take place at the same time as local government and mayoral elections in England, and elections to the National Assemblies in Scotland and Wales.
Members of the Lords voted against the amendment by 236 votes to 153 votes.
Other ‘tidying up’ amendments were agreed to without a division, including an amendment moved by Lord Rooker to clause 7 on the definition of the terms ‘the electorate’, ‘100% turnout’ and ‘vote’.
During report stage, which ended on Wednesday 9 February, Members of the Lords agreed to an amendment allowing greater discretion on the size of constituencies. Members of the Lords also voted in favour of an amendment to make the result of the planned referendum on an ‘alternative vote’ system for general elections non-binding if less than 40% of the electorate turns out.
The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill makes provision for a referendum on 5 May 2011 on changing to an ‘alternative vote’ system for general elections and redrawing constituency boundaries to reduce the size of the House of Commons.
After third reading in the House of Lords, a Bill that started in the House of Commons is sent back to the Commons for it to consider the Lords amendments.
Both Houses must agree on the exact wording of the Bill. A Bill may go back and forth between each House – known as ‘Ping Pong’ – until agreement is reached.