Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill - Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee Contents


Supplementary memorandum by the Cabinet Office


1. This supplementary memorandum has been prepared for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee ("the DPRRC") to assist with its scrutiny of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill ("the Bill"). It supplements the earlier memorandum that was prepared for the DPRRC.


2. The purpose and effect of the Bill are as described in the Cabinet Office's initial memorandum to the DPRRC on this Bill.


3. Clause 8(4): commencement or repeal of the alternative vote provisions: power to make transitional or saving provision

Power conferred on:   Lord President of the Council or the Secretary of State

Power exercised by: order made by statutory instrument

Parliamentary procedure:     no procedure

4. Clause 8 sets out the arrangements by which the alternative vote provisions (namely clause 9 of and Schedule 10 and Part 1 of Schedule 11 to, the Bill) are to be brought into force or repealed.

5. Clause 8(1) deals with the situation in which a simple majority of votes in the referendum is cast in favour of the alternative vote system becoming the voting system for Westminster parliamentary elections. In those circumstances, the alternative vote provisions can only be brought into force if a draft of the Order in Council bringing into force the new constituencies arrangements envisaged by Part 2 of the Bill has been submitted to Her Majesty in Council. By contrast, Clause 8(2) provides that the alternative vote provisions must be repealed by order if a majority of votes in the referendum are against implementing the alternative vote.

6. The power in clause 8(4) to make transitional or saving provision is available when an Order is made to commence the alternative vote provisions. As is frequently the case with a power to commence provisions by order, providing Ministers with the ancillary power in clause 8(4) was considered both sensible and necessary in order to ensure that the provisions can be implemented in a range of circumstances without undesirable consequences. For instance, if it is proposed to hold the proposed 2015 parliamentary general election under AV in the event of a "yes" vote it may be desirable to bring the AV provisions into force in advance of that, provided that an Order in Council had been submitted to Her Majesty in line with clause 8(1)(b). To commence the AV provisions to this timescale may be highly beneficial: it would give operational and administrative certainty about the provisions that will govern that election and allow appropriate preparations for the election to be started by electoral administrators in good time before the election takes place. However, were a by-election to be needed between this coming into force date and the 2015 general election Ministers may well wish to make a saving provision to ensure that any such by-election should proceed under the First Past the Post system.

7. The power in clause 8(4) enables strictly limited provision to be made for the purposes of commencing certain provisions in the Bill that themselves will have been previously debated and approved by Parliament. In particular, the power does not enable supplementary, incidental or consequential provision to be made. Nor does it allow an Order made under it to amend or modify any other enactment. Consequently, it is not an unusual extension of a power to commence provisions of the Bill by Order. For each and all of these reasons, we did not consider that it was necessary to attach any parliamentary procedure to the use of this power.

Cabinet Office

November 2010

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