B1622 – House of Commons Electoral Reform Bill 2020

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Andrew97
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B1622 – House of Commons Electoral Reform Bill 2020, TSR Liberal Democrats

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House of Commons Electoral Reform Bill 2020

An Act introducing mixed-member proportional representation for elections to the House of Commons, subject to a TSR referendum.

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: Referendum Procedure
(1) The provisions of this Act do not affect the internal procedures of the TSR Model House of Commons.
(2) This Act shall only come into force following a referendum conducted in line with Model House of Commons procedure and at a time agreed with the TSR Community Staff.
(3) The referendum question shall be ‘Which electoral system should be used in general elections?’, and the options shall be ‘First-past-the-post’ and ‘Mixed-member proportional representation’.
(4) This Act shall come into force if more voters select ‘Mixed-member proportional representation’ than ‘First-past-the-post’.

2: Definitions
The ‘Boundary Commissions’ refers to the Boundary Commissions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each acting within its respective nation.

3: Number of Members of Parliament
(1) The House of Commons shall consist of at least 600 members.
(2) 350 members shall be elected as representatives of single-member constituencies.
(3) At least 250 additional members shall be elected in electoral regions from among the defeated candidates in the constituencies.

4: Electoral Region Boundaries
(1) Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland shall each form a single electoral region.
(2) England shall be divided into between 8 and 16 electoral regions, which may vary in size, by its Boundary Commission.
(3) Each electoral region shall be allocated a share of the 600 Parliamentary seats proportional to its population.

5: Constituency Boundaries
(1) The constituencies of the Isle of Wight, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles) and Orkney and Shetland shall be protected and not affected by boundary changes.
(2) The boundaries of the remaining 347 constituencies shall be drawn so that:—
(2) (a) In principle, the populations of each constituency are as equal as possible, while complying with the other requirements in this section.
(2) (b) Constituencies are entirely contained within a single electoral region.
(2) (c) Where possible, constituencies are contained within a single ceremonial county.
(2) (d) Where possible, each local government electoral division is contained within a single constituency.
(2) (e) The population of a non-protected constituency is never smaller than 95 per cent of the average population of all non-protected constituencies in that electoral region.
(2) (f) The population of a non-protected constituency is never larger than 105 per cent of the average population of all non-protected constituencies in that electoral region.

6: Boundary Reviews
(1) The Boundary Commissions shall draw up an initial set of constituency boundaries using population data from the 2011 Census.
(2) A full review of constituency boundaries shall take place in 2025, and every ten years thereafter, using data from the most recent Census.
(3) The Boundary Commission for England may choose to review the boundaries of England’s electoral regions alongside any constituency boundary review.
(4) At each boundary review, the number of additional seats allocated to each electoral region shall be reviewed.

7: Voting Procedure
At each general election, voters shall receive a single ballot paper, which they will use to express a preference for a candidate, by drawing a cross or other clear mark by the name of one candidate.

8: Allocation of Seats at Elections
(1) The votes cast for candidates for each party in each electoral region shall be totalled.
(2) Each region’s seats shall be allocated to parties using the Sainte-Laguë method set out in Schedule 1.
(3) Parties that have failed to reach the threshold of a five-per-cent share of the votes cast in the nations in which they have fielded candidates shall be excluded from the calculation in section 8(2).
(4) If candidates from parties that have failed to reach the threshold in section 8(3) or candidates without a party affiliation have received the largest number of votes in any constituency, these candidates are duly elected as the Members of Parliament for those constituencies.
(5) For each Member of Parliament elected under section 8(4), one fewer seat shall be allocated under section 8(2) in the corresponding electoral region.
(6) Seats allocated under section 8(2) shall in the first instance be filled by candidates from each party who received the largest number of votes in their constituency, and these candidates shall be duly elected as Members of Parliament for their constituency.
(7) Seats allocated under section 8(2) and not filled under section 8(6) shall be awarded to candidates who did not receive the largest number of votes in their constituency, in descending order of the candidate’s percentage share of the vote in their constituency, and these candidates shall be duly elected as additional Members of Parliament for their electoral region.
(8) Candidates who received the largest number of votes in their constituency and have not been elected under either section 8(4) or section 8(6) shall also be duly elected as Members of Parliament for their constituency.
(9) If any candidates have been elected under section 8(8), additional seats shall be allocated to that electoral region to ensure the seats can be allocated to parties proportionally to their vote share, as defined by the Sainte-Laguë method set out in Schedule 1, and to other electoral regions to ensure each region is represented proportionally to its population.
(10) Seats allocated under section 8(9) shall also be filled using the process set out in section 8(7).

9: Vacancies
(1) Upon the incapacitation of a constituency Member of Parliament, a by-election in that constituency shall take place, and the candidate who received the largest number of votes in that constituency shall be duly elected as its new Member of Parliament.
(2) Upon the incapacitation of an additional regional Member of Parliament, the person who fulfils the following criteria is duly elected as the new Member of Parliament:—
(2) (a) They were a candidate in that electoral region at the previous general election for the party under whose affiliation the outgoing Member of Parliament was elected.
(2) (b) They have not been elected as a Member of Parliament at or since the previous general election.
(2) (c) They received the highest percentage share of the vote in their constituency at the previous general election of all candidates who fulfil the requirements of sections 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(b).
(2) (d) They are willing and eligible to become a Member of Parliament.
(3) If no person meets the criteria set out in section 9(2), the party under whose affiliation the outgoing Member of Parliament was elected may nominate the new Member of Parliament from among its members.

10: Commencement, Short Title and Extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Electoral Reform Act 2020.
(2) This bill shall extend to the United Kingdom; and
(3) Shall come into force immediately.

Schedule 1: The Sainte-Laguë Method
(1) Successive quotients are calculated for each party, using the formula Q = v/(2s + 1), where Q is the quotient, v is the number of votes cast for the party in the electoral region, and s is the number of seats the party has already been awarded in the region.
(2) The first seat is awarded to the party with the highest quotient, and that party’s quotient is recalculated.
(3) This procedure is repeated until all seats have been allocated.
(4) In the event that additional constituency Members of Parliament are elected under section 8(8) (in ‘overhang seats’), this procedure continues to be repeated in that region until enough seats have been allocated to all parties such that every party’s allocated seat total is at least as large as its number of constituency seats (creating extra ‘adjustment seats’).


Notes
Simply put, this bill proposes a referendum on adopting a proportional voting system for the House of Commons. If the electorate were to vote for PR, the system proposed in the bill would be adopted. We would propose holding the referendum before the end of 2020, either before or after the autumn general election.

How the new system works
This bill proposes adopting the variant of the mixed-member system used by the state parliament of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where some MPs are elected in constituencies using first-past-the-post, and additional members are elected in states (in Germany) or regions and nations (in this proposal for the UK) from among the best-performing candidates to not win their constituencies, in order to ensure the number of seats for each party matches the number of seats. Each voter casts a single vote, marking one cross as they do under first-past-the-post, which is used as both a constituency and regional vote.

The ratio of constituency to regional seats (350:250) proposed here is the same as that used in Baden-Württemberg (where it is 70:50). The totals proposed will ensure a House of at least 600 members, but avoid the appointment of additional MPs beyond that number if the constituencies themselves are allocated in a way that is not lopsided. If a party wins more seats on the constituency part alone than it should have won overall (known as ‘overhang seats’), then additional adjustment seats will be created to counter that effect, and to counter any geographical skewing that would result from one region having extra overhang and adjustment seats.

Regional MPs are selected from the best losers, rather than party lists. This provides the simplest way that voters can affect the order in which they are elected, rather than selections being wholly controlled by parties. This does impose an effective upper limit of 350 MPs for each party (with an exception where MPs can be co-opted by parties if there are no remaining candidates to fill vacancies that arise later in the term), but this is equivalent to 58.3% of the seats, and thus a single party receiving 58.3% of the vote. A combination of this being a highly unlikely scenario and it still producing a parliamentary majority of 100 means that we do not consider this matter of concern.

An illustration of the electoral system can be found in this flowchart:
Flowchart
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Why this system?
Mixed-member proportional representation is the simplest way to achieve a fully proportional election result, while maintaining the link of constituency representatives. It has three main advantages over its main competitor, STV:

1) From the point of view of the voter, voting takes place as it does now: one ballot paper, and one cross by one candidate.

2) It is guaranteed to provide a proportional result, and parties do not need to guess how many candidates they should stand in a constituency to maximise their seat total. (See Sinn Féin’s performance in the recent Irish general election for a practical illustration of this problem.)

3) It is much simpler and quicker to count the votes. Ballot papers need only be counted once, rather than being constantly re-distributed and re-counted. Once the vote totals are known, a computer can calculate the result in seconds. The final result should still be known on election night, rather than taking several days to emerge.
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Exterminate
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So basically this is a Lib-Dem seat-grabbing trick?
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Aph
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In general I support this. I think that the 5% threshold should apply to regions not nations personally, this would mean that regional parties stand a better shot of winning seats because it’s unlikely that they will win constituancies imo.

Beyond this, I can’t see any other problems.
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04MR17
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It's a shame that my feedback was not taken on board when this was shared with me during an earlier stage.
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Iñigo de Loyola
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Nay - the current system works well enough that I don't see the need for any real change.
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ibotu020
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I like it, but the idea that we would hold a referendum by before 2020 with a close general election will just not be doable for everyone
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04MR17
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(Original post by ibotu020)
I like it, but the idea that we would hold a referendum by before 2020 with a close general election will just not be doable for everyone
If this were to pass my solution would be to hold it during the course of next parliamentary term
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JMR2020.
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I would prefer for this bill to be proposed next term. So no for now.
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Bailey14
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(Original post by JMR2020.)
I would prefer for this bill to be proposed next term. So no for now.
Can I ask why?
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ibotu020
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(Original post by 04MR17)
If this were to pass my solution would be to hold it during the course of next parliamentary term
Yeah exactly what I was thinking
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Connor27
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I actually like MMP, so aye.
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Mr T 999
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Nay! I'm quite happy with the current system. I'm also against a referendum in this topic I don't think the general public care too much about this topic.
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by Exterminate)
So basically this is a Lib-Dem seat-grabbing trick?
It would give all parties the number of seats that they deserved.
(Original post by 04MR17)
It's a shame that my feedback was not taken on board when this was shared with me during an earlier stage.
I believe I received most of the Citizens' feedback anonymously from your leader. What was your feedback and I might be able to enlighten you as to why that was?
(Original post by ibotu020)
I like it, but the idea that we would hold a referendum by before 2020 with a close general election will just not be doable for everyone
Clearly timings aren't on the face of the bill for a reason, but I am hopeful we might get it in during December. If we need to have it after Christmas though, that's hardly the end of the world.
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by JMR2020.)
I would prefer for this bill to be proposed next term. So no for now.
I'm not sure what difference that would make?
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Alex 3
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Ugh no, more referendums and electoral system meddling from the Lib Dems. How out of touch they are
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04MR17
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
I believe I received most of the Citizens' feedback anonymously from your leader. What was your feedback and I might be able to enlighten you as to why that was?
To put your notes in a spoiler :eviltongue:
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04MR17
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(Original post by abucha3)
Ugh no, more referendums and electoral system meddling from the Lib Dems. How out of touch they are
It might be helpful if you establish what do you disagree with in the bill itself before attacking the author
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(Original post by 04MR17)
It might be helpful if you establish what do you disagree with in the bill itself before attacking the author
Same issues as before when electoral reform rears its head from the Lib Dem parapet.

The issue of changing a proven and long standing electoral system. In addition, a referendum proposed when there is clearly a level of voter fatigue and frustration with the prospect of any further referendums.

There are many current issues that are important to people’s lives, but the Lib Dem’s keep bringing electoral reform back to the table when it just isn’t relevant right now
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by 04MR17)
To put your notes in a spoiler :eviltongue:
Yeah, that was not taken on board because I'm strongly against hiding notes away in a spoiler.
(Original post by abucha3)
The issue of changing a proven and long standing electoral system. In addition, a referendum proposed when there is clearly a level of voter fatigue and frustration with the prospect of any further referendums.
Erm, it's been proven in Germany for 70 years plus...
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Connor27
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
Yeah, that was not taken on board because I'm strongly against hiding notes away in a spoiler.

Erm, it's been proven in Germany for 70 years plus...
New Zealand as well, perhaps the closest country in the world, in terms of constitutional arrangements, to our own.

I’m no fan of the Liberal Democrats but I can still recognise a good bill when I see it.
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