Later today I will be in the Commons chamber for the detailed consideration of the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill. This is another of the key constitutional reforms long argued for by the Liberal Democrats and now being implemented by the Coalition Government. It will introduce 5 year fixed term Parliaments. This essentially fixes the maximum life of a House of Commons between general elections. It confirms the 5 year term laid down by the Parliament Act 1911 but crucially removes the right of Prime Ministers to call an early election at a time of their choosing. I well remember being on red alert for a general election in October 2007, just two years and four months after I’d been elected. In the end of course there was a full five year term.
Another key Parliamentary Bill, the one that paves the way for a reform on our voting system has now cleared its stages in the House of Commons. Once the Lords have considered the Bill formal “Yes” and “No” campaigns will be launched. Liberal Democrats will be making the case for a YES vote. I want to work with Labour and Green Party supporters and non aligned people in order to win a big YES vote in Bristol.
Informal campaigning and awareness raising is already underway in Bristol. Last Saturday the Bristol Campaign for Fairer Votes had a stall at College Green. It was good to work alongside my predecessor, Valerie Davey, Labour MP for Bristol West from 1997 to 2005. We will be campaigning together for the Alternative Vote – a small change that will make a big difference. AV is as simple as 1,2,3 – you just rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than putting a cross next to one name. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the run up to the referendum next May! If you want to find out more please seehttp://www.yestofairervotes.org/