B1466 – Representation of the People (Automatic By-elections) Bill 2019 Watch

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Saracen's Fez
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B1466 – Representation of the People (Automatic By-elections) Bill 2019, DayneD89 MP, cranbrook_aspie MP

Representation of the People (Automatic By-elections) Bill 2019

An Act to ensure that by-elections are held when an MP changes party.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1: Automatic By-elections
(1) When a member of parliament resignes from the political party they were elected under at the last parlimentry election in that constituancy, they are automatically appointed to the post of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds; unless
iiii(a) the next general election is due within the next 6 months.

2: Commencement, Short Title and Extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Representation of the People (Automatic By-elections) Act 2019; and
(2) This bill shall extend to the United Kingdom; and
(3) Shall come into force on roayl assent.

NotesMr Speaker, when we ask our constituants to elect us to represnt them in this place we do so in the knowledge that some will vote based on who they think will make the best representative for their constituancy, but many will vote for the party they feel will represent them best in parliament, and will have little to no knowledge on their local MP.

This Bill would rectify the situation by forcing a by-election that the sitting MP would be eligable to stand in if they change parties after being elected under that party at the last general election.

Note that someone elcted an an indipendent MP would be able to join and leave parties without triggering a by-election as they would not be resigning from the party they were elected under. Note also that the Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds is one the offices MPs are assigned to if they wish to retire (MPs cannot technically resign) as this triggers a by-election in which they are able to stand if they desire.
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Connor27
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The spelling and grammar is absolutely awful to the point where I will be abstaining on this; it would be a tragic addition to Hansard even if I agree with the contents.

If the poor SPaG is amended in a second reading I will vote aye.
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Jammy Duel
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Nope, individuals and not parties are elected, further it would make it so easy for MPs to be purged by their leadership via withdrawal of whip. That withdrawal also created problems in that it is common for whips to be withdrawn after accusations of wrongdoing while an investigation is carried out, this would lead to by-elections too. Given the authors I am not surprised by these enormous issues.
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ns_2
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Not convinced by the logic - as JD points out, "individuals and not parties are elected" - yes, some people couldn't care less about the person and vote based on party but ultimately you are appointing a local representative.

On a more technical view, can I confirm that in being automatically appointed as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds in order to trigger a by-election, they would lose that post as soon as one is triggered - as to not prevent them standing...
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Mr T 999
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Damn and I thought my spag was bad

Question is why do we need this change?

There's a way around this. If an MP resigns and passes the seat to someone else in the party and then leave to join a another party, the seat won't go up in the by-election.
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by ns_2)
Not convinced by the logic - as JD points out, "individuals and not parties are elected" - yes, some people couldn't care less about the person and vote based on party but ultimately you are appointing a local representative.

On a more technical view, can I confirm that in being automatically appointed as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds in order to trigger a by-election, they would lose that post as soon as one is triggered - as to not prevent them standing...
You do know what appointment as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds (or alternatively Steward of the Manor of Northstead) is, right?
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by mr T 999)
Damn and I thought my spag was bad

Question is why do we need this change?

There's a way around this. If an MP resigns and passes the seat to someone else in the party and then leave to join a another party, the seat won't go up in the by-election.
Given this is for application to RL that doesn't work given seats are non-transferable, and in TSRland the seat belongs to the party anyway and we don't have constituencies for this to be able to apply
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Jarred
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I support this. It is true that we elect individuals rather than parties, but in practise many (arguably most) people cast their vote in the context of national politics and electing a party to government. Our political system should adapt to how people actually behave within it rather than cling statically to century old intentions.

Please do put it through a spell checker though! I’m not a purist but this was hard to read.
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Am happy to vote for this.
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ns_2
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
You do know what appointment as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds (or alternatively Steward of the Manor of Northstead) is, right?
Yep - Tom Scott did a YT video a while back; just wanted to clarify that the position would be temporary...
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Nope, individuals and not parties are elected, further it would make it so easy for MPs to be purged by their leadership via withdrawal of whip. That withdrawal also created problems in that it is common for whips to be withdrawn after accusations of wrongdoing while an investigation is carried out, this would lead to by-elections too. Given the authors I am not surprised by these enormous issues.
Agree with everything here. I will not be voting for this.
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Lord Vitiate
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Constituencies vote for the individuals, not the parties. Whether this works in practice is irrelevant.
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CatusStarbright
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I agree with all the members in the House who have asserted the argument that it is the individual MP that is elected. Therefore, it's a nay from me.
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DayneD89
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Nope, individuals and not parties are elected, further it would make it so easy for MPs to be purged by their leadership via withdrawal of whip. That withdrawal also created problems in that it is common for whips to be withdrawn after accusations of wrongdoing while an investigation is carried out, this would lead to by-elections too. Given the authors I am not surprised by these enormous issues.
Note the word 'resigns', or to 'voluntarily leave a job or office'. Removing the whip from a member, whether for wrongdoing or otherwise, would not trigger this. Given the author of the above post, I am not surprised to see that he did not adequately read the proposal.

(Original post by mr T 999)
Damn and I thought my spag was bad

Question is why do we need this change?

There's a way around this. If an MP resigns and passes the seat to someone else in the party and then leave to join a another party, the seat won't go up in the by-election.
An MP can't resign, this is why I assign them to that office to start the election rather than forcing a resignation.

(Original post by CatusStarbright)
I agree with all the members in the House who have asserted the argument that it is the individual MP that is elected. Therefore, it's a nay from me.
(Original post by ns_2)
Not convinced by the logic - as JD points out, "individuals and not parties are elected" - yes, some people couldn't care less about the person and vote based on party but ultimately you are appointing a local representative.

On a more technical view, can I confirm that in being automatically appointed as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds in order to trigger a by-election, they would lose that post as soon as one is triggered - as to not prevent them standing...
To both of the above, I agree that ideally people are elected rather than parties, but in practice that simply isn't true.

I can't find more recent data right now, but in 2013 22% of people could name their own MP. If people don't know the name of their MP it's hard to say that it is the MPs name, rather than the party name that is next to it, that gained the votes they received.
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04MR17
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I'm against this. We shouldn't legislate to account for voting behaviour, voters behave in this way because they don't appreciate how the system should be working anyway.
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DayneD89
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(Original post by 04MR17)
I'm against this. We shouldn't legislate to account for voting behaviour, voters behave in this way because they don't appreciate how the system should be working anyway.
People voting for a person over a party made sense when communities were smaller, but with the average number of constituents per MP in England now over 72,000 its impractical to expect most of those people to be invested enough in politics to know the differences between MPs.

We should legislate for reality, not some idealised view of how things should be.
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04MR17
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(Original post by DayneD89)
People voting for a person over a party made sense when communities were smaller, but with the average number of constituents per MP in England now over 72,000 its impractical to expect most of those people to be invested enough in politics to know the differences between MPs.

We should legislate for reality, not some idealised view of how things should be.
The fundamental components of our current electoral system and the way it works relies on the principle that an individual represents a constiuency. I don't think it's fair to tweak that because voters don't behave that way any more, because you're changing one of the principles the system works wjth without really changing the system. Full electoral reform I will support. Not this.
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DayneD89
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(Original post by 04MR17)
The fundamental components of our current electoral system and the way it works relies on the principle that an individual represents a constiuency. I don't think it's fair to tweak that because voters don't behave that way any more, because you're changing one of the principles the system works wjth without really changing the system. Full electoral reform I will support. Not this.
And they do represent their constituency, but partially in the name of their party. I don't ignore the fact that an MP can be primarily a representative of that constituency regardless of party, this is in fact why I ensured that this was done in a way that would ensure that the incumbent could still stand, either as an independent or as a representative of their new party. Thus the constituents still have the option to re-elect an MP after resigning a party and if that happens the MP is able to join and leave parties for the rest of that term without triggering new elections as they are not then elected as a representative of a party.

While I would support more drastic reform (in fact I have a bill almost ready on the subject that, like the monarchy one, may become a series of bills), but I don't think this requires that to be useful. This does not change the fact that MPs are still elected to represent a constituency, it just also recognises the huge importance that the party that they are a part of also has a significant impact on who the people choose to elect. To deny that links existence we should also remove party manifestos and party election nationwide campaigning as these seek to promote voting for parties instead of people. I'd argue that in a similar way to this bill we don't need to remove those as we can recognise that both the person and the party they are a part of are both used by the electorate to make their voting decisions.
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CatusStarbright
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(Original post by DayneD89)
To both of the above, I agree that ideally people are elected rather than parties, but in practice that simply isn't true.

I can't find more recent data right now, but in 2013 22% of people could name their own MP. If people don't know the name of their MP it's hard to say that it is the MPs name, rather than the party name that is next to it, that gained the votes they received.
That's certainly a problem, but it's an issue to tackle in its own right. This bill is not the way to react to that.
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DayneD89
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(Original post by CatusStarbright)
That's certainly a problem, but it's an issue to tackle in its own right. This bill is not the way to react to that.
See my replies to 04 above. As constituencies have grown to an average size of over 72,000 per MP is has become less and less possible for an MP to have an impact on every constituent. We have to work with reality, and the reality is that most people vote based on a party. In fact, we expect this, as can be seen in things like national party manifestos, leaders debates and the fact that we put the parties MP candidates are a member of by their name at election time.

It doesn't need to be one or the other, in groups of over 70 thousand people you will find large sections that vote in different ways. That is why I ensured that if the provisions of this bill came under effect, the incumbent would be able to stand in the following election. That way if the majority of that MPs constituents still supported them despite resigning from the party they would have the opportunity to re-elect them.
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