Con-Lib alliance accused of disrespect over referendum date

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SNP MP and Constitutional Reform Spokesman, Angus MacNeil, has hit out at the UK Government for its “Disrespect Agenda” as coalition ministers publish their plan to have a referendum on voting reform on the same day as the elections to the devolved administrations.

 

SNP MP and Constitutional Reform Spokesman, Angus MacNeil, has hit out at the UK Government for its “Disrespect Agenda” as coalition ministers publish their plan to have a referendum on voting reform on the same day as the elections to the devolved administrations.
 
The publication of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill to bring about the referendum comes after senior Conservative backbencher, Eleanor Laing MP, openly criticised the date clash at Scottish Questions on Wednesday.

Commenting, Mr MacNeil said:
 
“It is utterly unacceptable for the Coalition Government to treat the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland with such contempt.
 
“By holding the AV referendum on the same day there is a real danger of the Scottish Parliamentary elections being overshadowed and the issues that really matter to the people of Scotland being eclipsed by a media focus on an electoral system that is not supported by any of the political parties.
 
“Failure to consult the devolved administrations exposes the Tory / Liberal Disrespect Agenda. It’s time coalition ministers started listening to the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and indeed their own back benchers – and stepped back from these outrageous proposals immediately.

Mr MacNeil explained that the Scottish government would seek an urgent vote when Holyrood re-convenes adding:

“SNP ministers will seek a vote at Holyrood at an early opportunity after the recess to use the parliamentary majority – consisting of the SNP, Labour and Greens – to block these undemocratic plans.”
 
Notes:
 
1. Eleanor Laing’s comments from Scottish Questions on Wednesday 21st July 2010:
 
Eleanor Laing: “Thank you Mr Speaker. Does the Secretary of State agree with me that the devolution settlement in Scotland depends on having free and fair elections to the Scottish Parliament and does he not agree that the integrity of those elections is in danger of being undermined by the Government deciding to hold a referendum on AV on the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament.”
 
Secretary of State for Scotland: “I regret having to disagree with my Hon Friend. What we are proposing is to have a referendum on changing the voting system for this place, on the same day as an election to the Scottish Parliament. We believe that is entirely sensible. It will reduce cost, it will be practical on the same way of voting as the actual Scottish Parliament so we will be able to cope with that without too much difficult.”