Voting system poll finally cleared

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Plans for a referendum on changing the voting system for general elections has gained royal assent

Plans for a referendum on changing the voting system for general elections has gained royal assent after a torrid passage through Parliament.

The House of Lords sat through the night last month as the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill’s progress turned into a war of attrition between coalition and Labour peers.

But as the final deadline for the Bill to clear Parliament in time for a May 5 referendum approached the Government managed to overcome the stubborn resistance in the upper chamber.

Ministers needed to get the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill on to the statute book before peers began their February half-term recess at the end of Thursday’s business in order to give the Electoral Commission time to plan for a referendum on the coalition’s preferred date.

The legislation paves the way for a plebiscite on dropping the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system for Westminster elections in favour of the alternative vote (AV), which allows electors to rank candidates in order of preference.

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