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By Tim Montgomerie
Benedict Brogan has just blogged the details of Bernard Jenkin's Early Day Motion calling for the vote on AV to be decoupled from next year's Scottish and Welsh etc elections. Despite efforts of the Government Whips, 44 have signed at the time of blogging. It's an interesting list:
Given that Labour and nationalist MPs are also ready to oppose the Cabinet's preferred date there is a real possibility of defeat for the Coalition when the Bill is presented to the Commons in September.
The full text of Bernard Jenkin's EDM is below:
DATE OF PROPOSED REFERENDUM ON AN ALTERNATIVE VOTING SYSTEM
That this House notes that in 2002 the Electoral Commission, following consultations on the holding of a possible referendum on the Euro on the same day as other elections on 1 May 2003, issued a statement making clear that referendums on fundamental issues of national importance should be considered in isolation and that they should not be held at the same time as devolved assembly or local government elections; further notes that in a recent report the House of Lords Constitution Committee recommended that there should be a presumption against holding referendums on the same day as elections; recognises that this advice is in accordance with best constitutional practice in countries such as Switzerland, where referendums are more regularly held; believes that this constitutional practice should be observed unless there are very exceptional reasons for it to be set aside; is concerned at the proposal to hold the referendum on whether to change the voting system on 5 May 2011, which is the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and to local authorities in Northern Ireland, but only in parts of England; further believes that this proposal would allow other issues to cloud the referendum debate before the vote, would artificially inflate turnout in some parts of the country but not others, and that it may accordingly advantage one campaign at the expense of the other; proposes that any referendum on this issue should therefore be held on a different date; and looks forward to advice from the Electoral Commission on this matter which is consistent with its previous statements.