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Dropping plans to end hereditary peer by-elections ‘astonishing,’ say campaigners

9th December 2016
9 Dec 2016
Tags: 
house of lords
lords reform
hereditary by-elections
hereditary Peers

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Statement from Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release, 9th Dec. 2016 

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Commenting on the House of Lords dropping a Bill to end hereditary peer by-elections today, Will Brett, Head of Campaigns at the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“It’s astonishing that in the 21st century, a handful of hereditary Lords still gets to decide who sits in our legislature. This was the most modest of Bills, proposed by Peers themselves to end an absurd anachronism. The fact it has been dropped borders on the comical.

“Some of these by-elections have had an electorate of three or less. It’s an embarrassment to our politics, and the sooner this practice is scrapped the better. Instead, let’s have proper elections that involve the whole public, based on a fair voting system.

“We hope the government now come forward with more substantial reforms to ensure that this long era of hereditary and unelected law-making draws to a close.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] The House of Lords Act 1999 (Amendment) Bill 2016-17 was dropped by Peers at Committee Stage, midday today, following the government refusing to support it: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/houseoflordsact1999amendment.html

[2] Since the House of Lords Act 1999, the House of Lords ‘elected’ 90 hereditary peers to sit in the House. When one of these hereditary peers dies, a by-election is held. Fewer than 200 people in the whole of the UK are able to vote in or fill those vacancies - those on the ‘Register of Hereditary Peers’. More info here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/lords/house-of-lords-external-communications/by-elections/

“Missing in Richmond: voter choice” – Electoral Reform Society

2nd December 2016
2 Dec 2016
Tags: 
Richmond
Richmond Park
Richmond by-election
by-election
Zac Goldsmith
Sarah Olney

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  • Statement from Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release, 2nd November 2016 
  • For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Commenting on the Richmond by-election, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“In all the excitement of the Richmond by-election, one thing has gone missing – and that’s voter choice.

“Because of our broken electoral system, people in Richmond had a seriously limited slate of candidates to choose from. Many felt forced to vote for candidates who were not their first choice, understandably putting tactics above the expression of their democratic will. It should be obvious that in the 21st century, no one should feel forced to choose between head and heart.

“The Greens, Conservatives and UKIP all opted to stand aside – a decision that no party should have to make, and a denial of democracy. The fact that this happened on both the left and the right shows that the sorry state of our electoral system hurts everyone across the political spectrum.

“Tactical voting is a scourge on our democracy. This is what happens when a two-party voting system collides with the reality of modern politics. It leaves both voters and parties worse off.

“With a proportional system for national elections, and Alternative Vote for by-elections, the problem is massively reduced. You don’t have to ‘hold your nose’ when you vote – you give your first preference to the party you actually support, and if they don’t have enough support to win, your vote is moved to your second choice. It’s not hard. No more accusations of parties being ‘spoilers’ and handing the seat to x, y or z.

“It’s time we put paid to the awkward and unnecessary debates about ‘spoiler’ candidates. The way to do that is to have a voting system where it’s always possible for voters to vote for their preferred party. That, surely, is not such a radical idea.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Electoral Reform Society win ‘Westminster’s Oscar’ for democratising devolution debate

30th November 2016
30 Nov 2016
Tags: 
PSA Awards
citizens' assemblies
Citizens' Assembly
Democracy Matters
PSA
award

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07717211630

For immediate release, 30th November 2016

Statement from Electoral Reform Society. For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


The Electoral Reform Society and leading academics picked up the Democratic Innovation Award for their Citizens’ Assembly project at last night's (29th November) Political Studies Association Annual Awards in Westminster.

The project brought together politicians, regional leaders and the public to debate the government’s English devolution plans at a local level, with the Democracy Matters’ citizens’ assemblies aiming to address the gap that has emerged between the public and formal politics.

Between October and November 2015, two pilot assemblies were run in Southampton (Assembly South) and Sheffield (Assembly North) and to ask how new regional powers can be established in a form that is supported by the people who live locally.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

"This prize means a great deal - especially to those who believe involving citizens in political processes is central to building a healthy democracy. At a time of growing disillusionment in mainstream politics, it's vital that politicians at all levels recognise the need to close the democratic gap and give voters a real say over their communities.” 

The pilot assemblies compared and contrasted different assembly design types and revealed how to ‘do’ politics differently and the long-term benefits of such an approach in an era that appears defined by anti-politics.

Ghose added:

"Democracy Matters was a truly collaborative and innovative effort between universities and the Electoral Reform Society, and offers a framework for promoting positive, evidence-based change in our democracy. It's an honour to receive this award on behalf of all the academics and individuals who organised it - but more importantly, for the local citizens who put in so much of their time and energy to deliberate about devolution.”  

Now in its 15th year, the PSA Awards pays tribute to those that have made outstanding contributions to the study and conduct of politics in the past year. The Citizens’ Assembly project achieved both, by bringing together an alliance of university researchers and civil society organisations to pilot new ways of promoting informed public engagement around the English devolution agenda.

Professor Will Jennings, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton, said:

“The citizens’ assemblies in Southampton and Sheffield challenged the myth that people are disengaged from politics. When citizens are given the chance to assess a range of positions and possibilities they do it with gusto – people are more than capable of grappling with complex questions about the way we are governed.

“This marks an important contribution to the conversation about politics and democracy in this country. We have shown there is a real potential for a new way of doing things.”

On receiving the award, Katie Ghose said:

"At a time of huge constitutional upheaval, involving citizens is not only desirable – it’s essential. The EU referendum was the start, not the end, of public involvement in constitutional issues, and it’s time to put words about ‘building a democracy that works for everyone’ into action.”

The Democracy Matters team consisted of Katie Ghose (Electoral Reform Society), Matt Flinders (University of Sheffield), Will Jennings (University of Southampton), Edward Molloy (Electoral Reform Society), Brenton Prosser (University of Sheffield), Alan Renwick (University College London), Graham Smith (University of Westminster), Paulo Spada (University of Southampton) and Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton).

As an ESRC-funded ‘rapid response’ project, Democracy Matters demonstrates the capacity of the social sciences to undertake rigorous, risky and high-impact research in an agile and highly responsive manner.

The master of ceremonies on the evening was Jon Snow (Channel 4 News), and the award was presented by the First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones. Other winners include Grayson Perry (Contribution to the Arts and Culture), Michael Ignatieff (International Recognition Award), Gordon Brown (Lifetime Achievement in Politics) and Ruth Davidson (Best Use of Social Media).

ENDS

Read more about the Citizens’ Assemblies project here: http://citizensassembly.co.uk/ and here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/katie-ghose/citizens-assemblies-_b_9719200.html

  • The 15th Annual PSA Awards was held at Church House, Westminster, London on 29 November 2016 to celebrate noteworthy academics, journalists, politicians, political campaigners and policy-makers who have made significant contributions to the conduct and study of politics.Notes to editors
  • This year’s Awards Jury included Robert Barrington (Executive Director, Transparency International), Stephen Khan (Editor, The Conversation), Marjorie Wallace (CEO, SANE) and Professor Matthew Flinders (Chair, PSA).
  • The 2016 PSA Awards were sponsored by The Alliance for Useful Evidence, Elsevier, Routledge, SAGE Publications and YouGov.
  • Photos from the event will be available from Wednesday 30 November via the PSA Flickr account.
  • The Awards ceremony will be broadcast by BBC Parliament and available to view on BBC iPlayer after the event
  • Follow social media coverage of the awards at @PolStudiesAssoc and #PSAAwards.

Reshaping the Senedd: New report shows how to elect a larger, more effective National Assembly // Ail-lunio’r Senedd: Adroddiad newydd yn dangos sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy, sy’n fwy effeithiol

30th November 2016
30 Nov 2016

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For immediate release: Wednesday 30 November 2016

Contact: Richard Thomas, Wales Governance Centre, 07960 688851. Owain ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, 07771 661802


New proposals for electing a larger, more effective and accountable Assembly have been set out by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

In the first analysis of how a larger Assembly should be elected as it takes on increased powers, the report – Reshaping the Senedd – outlines seven principles, such as simplicity and proportionality that should inform how a larger Assembly could be elected.

It recommends two preferred options:

Single Transferable Vote (STV) –  87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Open List – 87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Adapting the current Additional Member System (AMS) is also a plausible, if unwieldy, option.

The report follows the cross-party Silk Commission’s recommendation for a larger Assembly, which formed the basis of the cross-party St David’s Day Agreement in March 2015.

The Assembly is set to be given the power to change its size and voting system, subject to the passing of the Wales Bill, but only with two-thirds of AMs voting in favour, meaning cross-party agreement is needed. 

Co-Author and ERS Cymru Campaigns and Research Officer, Dr. Owain ap Gareth, said:

“New tax powers, and the prospect of additional powers from Europe make the case for a larger, fairly-elected Assembly, stronger than ever.

“Given that many now recognise the need for a more effective and accountable Assembly, Reshaping the Senedd’ moves from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.  It looks at practical ways to achieve a larger, more democratic Assembly that can deal with the new challenges and opportunities that will arise through the Wales Bill and following Brexit.

“Consensus is not just desirable but essential for change to happen.  That is how it should be: changes to the rules of the game require a different kind of debate that goes beyond partisan politics.

“This report gives people the key principles and practical tools to have a clear-headed and positive debate about how we make a bolstered Assembly work better for voters and Welsh politics as a whole.”

The Acting Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, Professor Roger Scully said: 

“Our report provides seven principles against which to assess the main possible voting systems. We want all parties to sign up to these principles as a basis for rational debate.

“The report finds several systems, such as Westminster’s “First Past the Post” system, unsuitable. Adapting the current system is more palatable, whilst the systems that best balance the principles are either an “open list” or the Single Transferable Vote in 29, three-member constituencies.

“There is no perfect system that fully satisfies every principle, so this is about finding the right balance. 

“We know that parties will approach this from different standpoints, so this report can be used as a serious basis and common ground for discussions that can help build the necessary agreement to take Welsh democracy forward.”

ENDS

Editor’s Notes:

1.     A full copy of the report is attached and also available at http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/publications/:

2.     The earlier Size Matters report which made the case for a larger Assembly is available here.

3.     Electoral Reform Society Cymru is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and build a better democracy in Wales. We offer an independent voice, and work to shape the democratic debate at all levels. We put the interests of the citizens within our democracy first.

We believe:

— Every vote and every voice has value and should be heard

— Everyone should be able to shape the decisions that affect their lives

— Our institutions should reflect the people they serve

— People should be able to hold those in power to account

— Politics should offer people real alternatives

For more information about the Electoral Reform Society, please visit: www.electoral-reform.org.uk

4.     The Wales Governance Centre is a Cardiff University research centre undertaking innovative research into all aspects of the law, politics, government and political economy of Wales, as well the wider UK and European contexts of territorial governance.

5.     Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems. www.cardiff.ac.uk


Ail-lunio’r Senedd: Adroddiad newydd yn dangos sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy, sy’n fwy effeithiol

Mercher 30 Tachwedd 2016

Cyswllt: Richard Thomas, Canolfan Llywodraethiant Cymru, 07960 688851. Owain ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, 07771 661802        

Mae cynigion newydd ar gyfer sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy o faint, sy’n fwy effeithiol ac atebol wedi eu gosod allan gan Ganolfan Llywodraethiant Prifysgol Caerdydd Cymru ac Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

Yn y dadansoddiad cyntaf o’i fath , mae’r adroddiad – Ail-lunio’r Senedd – yn edrych ar sut y dylai Cynulliad mwy o faint gael ei hethol wrth i’w bwerau gynyddu. Mae’n amlinellu saith egwyddor megis symlrwydd a chyfranoldeb a ddylai lywio sut y gall Cynulliad mwy o faint gael ei hethol.

Mae'n argymell dau opsiwn:

• Pleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy (STV) - 87 o aelodau etholedig mewn 29 o etholaethau 3-aelod

• Rhestr Agored - 87 o aelodau etholedig mewn 29 o etholaethau 3-aelod

Mae addasu'r System Aelodau Ychwanegol (AMS) presennol hefyd yn opsiwn credadwy, ond yn llai hyblyg.

Mae'r adroddiad yn dilyn argymhelliad trawsbleidiol y Comisiwn Silk ar gyfer Cynulliad mwy o faint, a oedd yn sail Cytundeb Dydd Gwyl Dewi ym mis Mawrth 2015.

Mae'r Cynulliad yn mynd i gael y pŵer i newid ei faint a'i system bleidleisio, yn amodol ar basio'r Mesur Cymru, ond dim ond gyda chefnogaeth dwy ran o dair o ACau, sy'n golygu bod angen cytundeb trawsbleidiol.

Dywedodd Cyfarwyddwr Dros Dro Canolfan Llywodraethu Cymru, Prifysgol Caerdydd, yr Athro Roger Scully:

"Mae ein hadroddiad yn defnyddio saith egwyddor i asesu'r prif systemau pleidleisio sy’n bosibl i’w cael. Rydym am i bob plaid ymrwymo i’r egwyddorion hyn fel sail ar gyfer trafodaeth resymegol.

"Mae'r adroddiad yn canfod nifer o systemau, megis system “Cyntaf i'r Felin” San Steffan, yn gwbl anaddas. Mae addasu’r system bresennol yn well na rhain, ond y systemau sy'n cydbwyso’r egwyddorion orau yw naill ai "Rhestr Agored" neu’r Bleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy mewn 29 o etholaethau tri aelod.

"Nid oes system berffaith sy'n bodloni pob egwyddor yn llawn, felly mae hyn am ddarganfod y cydbwysedd iawn.

"Rydym yn gwybod y bydd y pleidiau yn dod at hwn o safbwyntiau gwahanol, felly gall yr adroddiad hwn yn cael ei ddefnyddio fel sail ddifrifol i ddarganfod tir cyffredin ar gyfer trafodaethau i gytuno ar sut i symud democratiaeth Cymru yn ei flaen."

Dywedodd cyd-awdur yr adroddiad, a Swyddog Ymgyrchoedd ac Ymchwil Cymru ERS, Dr. Owain ap Gareth:

"Mae pwerau trethu newydd, a'r posibilrwydd o bwerau ychwanegol o Ewrop yn gwneud yr achos dros Gynulliad mwy o faint, wedi’i hethol yn deg, yn gryfach nag erioed.

"Gan fod cymaint bellach yn cydnabod yr angen am Gynulliad sy’n fwy effeithiol ac atebol, mae 'Ail-lunio’r Senedd' yn symud o'r 'pam' at y 'sut'. Mae'n edrych ar ffyrdd ymarferol i gyflawni Cynulliad democrataidd mwy o faint, sy’n gallu wynebu heriau a chyfleoedd newydd a fydd yn codi drwy'r Mesur Cymru ac yn dilyn Brexit.

"Nid yn unig yw consensws yn ddymunol ond mae’n hanfodol i newid ddigwydd. Dyna sut y dylai fod: mae newidiadau i reolau’r gêm yn gofyn am fath gwahanol o drafodaeth tu hwnt i wleidydda pleidiol.

"Mae'r adroddiad hwn yn cynnig egwyddorion clir a dull ymarferol i gael dadl hirben a chadarnhaol am sut y gallwn lunio Cynulliad sy’n gweithio’n well i bleidleiswyr a hybu gwell wleidyddiaeth i Gymru."

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i'r Golygydd:

1. Mae copi llawn o'r adroddiad ynghlwm a hefyd ar gael yn http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/publications/:

2. Mae'r adroddiad ‘Maint yn Cyfrif’ a wnaeth yr achos dros Cynulliad mwy o faint ar gael yma.

3. Corff ymgyrchu annibynnol yw Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru sy’n gweithio i hyrwyddo hawliau etholwyr ac adeiladu gwell democratiaeth yng Nghymru. Rydym ni’n cynnig llais annibynnol ac yn gweithio i ffurfio’r drafodaeth ddemocrataidd ar bob lefel. Rydym ni’n gosod buddiannau’r dinasyddion yn ein democratiaeth yn gyntaf.

Rydym ni’n credu:

— Bod pob pleidlais a phob barn o werth ac yn haeddu gwrandawiad

— Y dylai pawb fod yn gallu gwneud penderfyniadau ar yr hyn sy’n effeithio ar eu bywydau

— Y dylai ein sefydliadau adlewyrchu’r bobl mae nhw’n eu gwasanaethu

— Y dylai pobl allu dal y rheini sydd â grym i gyfrif

— Y dylai gwleidyddiaeth gynnig dewisiadau go iawn i bobl

Am ragor o wybodaeth am Electoral Reform Society Cymru, ewch i www.electoral-reform.org.uk

4. Mae Canolfan Llywodraethiant Cymru yn ganolfan ymchwil ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd sy’n ymgymryd ag ymchwil arloesol ar bob agwedd ar gyfraith, gwleidyddiaeth, llywodraeth ac economi gwleidyddol Cymru, ynghyd â chyd-destunau ehangach llywodraethiant diriogaethol yn y Deyrnas Gyfunol ac Ewrop.

5. Mae Prifysgol Caerdydd wedi'i chydnabod mewn asesiadau annibynnol y llywodraeth fel un o brifysgolion addysgu ac ymchwil mwyaf blaenllaw Prydain ac mae'n aelod o Grŵp Russell o brifysgolion sy’n gwneud ymchwil dwys y DU. O dan Fframwaith Rhagoriaeth Ymchwil 2014 cafwyd Prifysgol Caerdydd y 5ed Brifysgol yn y DU am ragoriaeth ymchwil. Ymhlith ei staff academaidd mae dau enillydd Nobel, gan gynnwys enillydd Gwobr Nobel 2007 am Feddygaeth, Athro Canghellor y Brifysgol Syr Martin Evans. Wedi’i sefydlu drwy Siarter Frenhinol ym 1883, heddiw mae'r Brifysgol yn cyfuno cyfleusterau modern trawiadol ac agwedd ddeinamig tuag at addysgu ac ymchwil. Mae ehangder arbenigedd y Brifysgol yn cynnwys: Coleg y Celfyddydau, y Dyniaethau a Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol; Coleg y Gwyddorau Biofeddygol a Gwyddorau Bywyd; a Choleg y Gwyddorau Ffisegol a Pheirianneg, ynghyd ag ymrwymiad hirsefydlog i ddysgu gydol oes. Mae Sefydliadau Ymchwil blaenllaw Caerdydd yn cynnig dulliau newydd radical i ymdrin â phroblemau byd-eang. www.cardiff.ac.uk

Reshaping the Senedd: New report shows how to elect a larger, more effective National Assembly

30th November 2016
30 Nov 2016
Tags: 
wales
ERS Wales
welsh assembly
Reshaping the Senedd
Size Matters

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Press Release File: 
Binary Data
Contact Tel: 
07771661802

For immediate release: Wednesday 30 November 2016

Contact: Richard Thomas, Wales Governance Centre, 07960 688851. Owain ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, 07771 661802


New proposals for electing a larger, more effective and accountable Assembly have been set out by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

In the first analysis of how a larger Assembly should be elected as it takes on increased powers, the report – Reshaping the Senedd – outlines seven principles, such as simplicity and proportionality that should inform how a larger Assembly could be elected.

It recommends two preferred options:

Single Transferable Vote (STV) –  87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Open List – 87 members elected in 29, 3-member constituencies

Adapting the current Additional Member System (AMS) is also a plausible, if unwieldy, option.

The report follows the cross-party Silk Commission’s recommendation for a larger Assembly, which formed the basis of the cross-party St David’s Day Agreement in March 2015.

The Assembly is set to be given the power to change its size and voting system, subject to the passing of the Wales Bill, but only with two-thirds of AMs voting in favour, meaning cross-party agreement is needed. 

Co-Author and ERS Cymru Campaigns and Research Officer, Dr. Owain ap Gareth, said:

“New tax powers, and the prospect of additional powers from Europe make the case for a larger, fairly-elected Assembly, stronger than ever.

“Given that many now recognise the need for a more effective and accountable Assembly, Reshaping the Senedd’ moves from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.  It looks at practical ways to achieve a larger, more democratic Assembly that can deal with the new challenges and opportunities that will arise through the Wales Bill and following Brexit.

“Consensus is not just desirable but essential for change to happen.  That is how it should be: changes to the rules of the game require a different kind of debate that goes beyond partisan politics.

“This report gives people the key principles and practical tools to have a clear-headed and positive debate about how we make a bolstered Assembly work better for voters and Welsh politics as a whole.”

The Acting Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, Professor Roger Scully said: 

“Our report provides seven principles against which to assess the main possible voting systems. We want all parties to sign up to these principles as a basis for rational debate.

“The report finds several systems, such as Westminster’s “First Past the Post” system, unsuitable. Adapting the current system is more palatable, whilst the systems that best balance the principles are either an “open list” or the Single Transferable Vote in 29, three-member constituencies.

“There is no perfect system that fully satisfies every principle, so this is about finding the right balance. 

“We know that parties will approach this from different standpoints, so this report can be used as a serious basis and common ground for discussions that can help build the necessary agreement to take Welsh democracy forward.”

ENDS

Editor’s Notes:

1.     A full copy of the report is attached and also available at http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/publications/:

2.     The earlier Size Matters report which made the case for a larger Assembly is available here.

3.     Electoral Reform Society Cymru is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and build a better democracy in Wales. We offer an independent voice, and work to shape the democratic debate at all levels. We put the interests of the citizens within our democracy first.

We believe:

— Every vote and every voice has value and should be heard

— Everyone should be able to shape the decisions that affect their lives

— Our institutions should reflect the people they serve

— People should be able to hold those in power to account

— Politics should offer people real alternatives

For more information about the Electoral Reform Society, please visit: www.electoral-reform.org.uk

4.     The Wales Governance Centre is a Cardiff University research centre undertaking innovative research into all aspects of the law, politics, government and political economy of Wales, as well the wider UK and European contexts of territorial governance.

5.     Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems. www.cardiff.ac.uk

Ail-lunio’r Senedd: Adroddiad newydd yn dangos sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy, sy’n fwy effeithiol

30th November 2016
30 Nov 2016
Tags: 
Cymru
ERS Cymru
Senedd
Reshaping the Senedd

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Press Release File: 
Binary Data
Contact Tel: 
07771 661802

Ail-lunio’r Senedd: Adroddiad newydd yn dangos sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy, sy’n fwy effeithiol

Mercher 30 Tachwedd 2016

Cyswllt: Richard Thomas, Canolfan Llywodraethiant Cymru, 07960 688851. Owain ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, 07771 661802        

Mae cynigion newydd ar gyfer sut i ethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol mwy o faint, sy’n fwy effeithiol ac atebol wedi eu gosod allan gan Ganolfan Llywodraethiant Prifysgol Caerdydd Cymru ac Electoral Reform Society Cymru.

Yn y dadansoddiad cyntaf o’i fath , mae’r adroddiad – Ail-lunio’r Senedd – yn edrych ar sut y dylai Cynulliad mwy o faint gael ei hethol wrth i’w bwerau gynyddu. Mae’n amlinellu saith egwyddor megis symlrwydd a chyfranoldeb a ddylai lywio sut y gall Cynulliad mwy o faint gael ei hethol.

Mae'n argymell dau opsiwn:

• Pleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy (STV) - 87 o aelodau etholedig mewn 29 o etholaethau 3-aelod

• Rhestr Agored - 87 o aelodau etholedig mewn 29 o etholaethau 3-aelod

Mae addasu'r System Aelodau Ychwanegol (AMS) presennol hefyd yn opsiwn credadwy, ond yn llai hyblyg.

Mae'r adroddiad yn dilyn argymhelliad trawsbleidiol y Comisiwn Silk ar gyfer Cynulliad mwy o faint, a oedd yn sail Cytundeb Dydd Gwyl Dewi ym mis Mawrth 2015.

Mae'r Cynulliad yn mynd i gael y pŵer i newid ei faint a'i system bleidleisio, yn amodol ar basio'r Mesur Cymru, ond dim ond gyda chefnogaeth dwy ran o dair o ACau, sy'n golygu bod angen cytundeb trawsbleidiol.

Dywedodd Cyfarwyddwr Dros Dro Canolfan Llywodraethu Cymru, Prifysgol Caerdydd, yr Athro Roger Scully:

"Mae ein hadroddiad yn defnyddio saith egwyddor i asesu'r prif systemau pleidleisio sy’n bosibl i’w cael. Rydym am i bob plaid ymrwymo i’r egwyddorion hyn fel sail ar gyfer trafodaeth resymegol.

"Mae'r adroddiad yn canfod nifer o systemau, megis system “Cyntaf i'r Felin” San Steffan, yn gwbl anaddas. Mae addasu’r system bresennol yn well na rhain, ond y systemau sy'n cydbwyso’r egwyddorion orau yw naill ai "Rhestr Agored" neu’r Bleidlais Sengl Drosglwyddadwy mewn 29 o etholaethau tri aelod.

"Nid oes system berffaith sy'n bodloni pob egwyddor yn llawn, felly mae hyn am ddarganfod y cydbwysedd iawn.

"Rydym yn gwybod y bydd y pleidiau yn dod at hwn o safbwyntiau gwahanol, felly gall yr adroddiad hwn yn cael ei ddefnyddio fel sail ddifrifol i ddarganfod tir cyffredin ar gyfer trafodaethau i gytuno ar sut i symud democratiaeth Cymru yn ei flaen."

Dywedodd cyd-awdur yr adroddiad, a Swyddog Ymgyrchoedd ac Ymchwil Cymru ERS, Dr. Owain ap Gareth:

"Mae pwerau trethu newydd, a'r posibilrwydd o bwerau ychwanegol o Ewrop yn gwneud yr achos dros Gynulliad mwy o faint, wedi’i hethol yn deg, yn gryfach nag erioed.

"Gan fod cymaint bellach yn cydnabod yr angen am Gynulliad sy’n fwy effeithiol ac atebol, mae 'Ail-lunio’r Senedd' yn symud o'r 'pam' at y 'sut'. Mae'n edrych ar ffyrdd ymarferol i gyflawni Cynulliad democrataidd mwy o faint, sy’n gallu wynebu heriau a chyfleoedd newydd a fydd yn codi drwy'r Mesur Cymru ac yn dilyn Brexit.

"Nid yn unig yw consensws yn ddymunol ond mae’n hanfodol i newid ddigwydd. Dyna sut y dylai fod: mae newidiadau i reolau’r gêm yn gofyn am fath gwahanol o drafodaeth tu hwnt i wleidydda pleidiol.

"Mae'r adroddiad hwn yn cynnig egwyddorion clir a dull ymarferol i gael dadl hirben a chadarnhaol am sut y gallwn lunio Cynulliad sy’n gweithio’n well i bleidleiswyr a hybu gwell wleidyddiaeth i Gymru."

DIWEDD

Nodiadau i'r Golygydd:

1. Mae copi llawn o'r adroddiad ynghlwm a hefyd ar gael yn http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/publications/:

2. Mae'r adroddiad ‘Maint yn Cyfrif’ a wnaeth yr achos dros Cynulliad mwy o faint ar gael yma.

3. Corff ymgyrchu annibynnol yw Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru sy’n gweithio i hyrwyddo hawliau etholwyr ac adeiladu gwell democratiaeth yng Nghymru. Rydym ni’n cynnig llais annibynnol ac yn gweithio i ffurfio’r drafodaeth ddemocrataidd ar bob lefel. Rydym ni’n gosod buddiannau’r dinasyddion yn ein democratiaeth yn gyntaf.

Rydym ni’n credu:

— Bod pob pleidlais a phob barn o werth ac yn haeddu gwrandawiad

— Y dylai pawb fod yn gallu gwneud penderfyniadau ar yr hyn sy’n effeithio ar eu bywydau

— Y dylai ein sefydliadau adlewyrchu’r bobl mae nhw’n eu gwasanaethu

— Y dylai pobl allu dal y rheini sydd â grym i gyfrif

— Y dylai gwleidyddiaeth gynnig dewisiadau go iawn i bobl

Am ragor o wybodaeth am Electoral Reform Society Cymru, ewch i www.electoral-reform.org.uk

4. Mae Canolfan Llywodraethiant Cymru yn ganolfan ymchwil ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd sy’n ymgymryd ag ymchwil arloesol ar bob agwedd ar gyfraith, gwleidyddiaeth, llywodraeth ac economi gwleidyddol Cymru, ynghyd â chyd-destunau ehangach llywodraethiant diriogaethol yn y Deyrnas Gyfunol ac Ewrop.

5. Mae Prifysgol Caerdydd wedi'i chydnabod mewn asesiadau annibynnol y llywodraeth fel un o brifysgolion addysgu ac ymchwil mwyaf blaenllaw Prydain ac mae'n aelod o Grŵp Russell o brifysgolion sy’n gwneud ymchwil dwys y DU. O dan Fframwaith Rhagoriaeth Ymchwil 2014 cafwyd Prifysgol Caerdydd y 5ed Brifysgol yn y DU am ragoriaeth ymchwil. Ymhlith ei staff academaidd mae dau enillydd Nobel, gan gynnwys enillydd Gwobr Nobel 2007 am Feddygaeth, Athro Canghellor y Brifysgol Syr Martin Evans. Wedi’i sefydlu drwy Siarter Frenhinol ym 1883, heddiw mae'r Brifysgol yn cyfuno cyfleusterau modern trawiadol ac agwedd ddeinamig tuag at addysgu ac ymchwil. Mae ehangder arbenigedd y Brifysgol yn cynnwys: Coleg y Celfyddydau, y Dyniaethau a Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol; Coleg y Gwyddorau Biofeddygol a Gwyddorau Bywyd; a Choleg y Gwyddorau Ffisegol a Pheirianneg, ynghyd ag ymrwymiad hirsefydlog i ddysgu gydol oes. Mae Sefydliadau Ymchwil blaenllaw Caerdydd yn cynnig dulliau newydd radical i ymdrin â phroblemau byd-eang. www.cardiff.ac.uk

Strathclyde announcement: Time for government to look at real Lords reform, say ERS

17th November 2016
17 Nov 2016

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07717211630

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 12:00, 17th November 2016

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Commenting on the government’s announcement that they are to drop plans to limit the powers of the House of Lords, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“These proposals were never about real Lords reform in the first place – they were more a knee-jerk reaction to a government defeat. This kind of tit-for-tat, one-sided manoeuvre was never going to get off the ground. However, it’s absolutely vital that genuine Lords reform is kept on the table.

“The fact that David Cameron was able to appoint 190 new unelected peers in the space of just six years - a faster rate than any Prime Minister in Britain’s history – is a disgrace to our democracy. An unreformed and bloated Lords comes at a cost of millions more every year. But the democratic cost is greater still.

“That there are no limits to the number – or party balance – of peers a Prime Minister can appoint is a deep concern. But more than that, if the government is to live up to promise of a 'democracy that works for everyone’ then it’s time for a fairly-elected upper chamber, rather than one that can be repeatedly topped up with party donors and hangers-on.”  

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Read the Electoral Reform Society’s recent ‘Fact vs Fiction’ report published in August 2015 date on the House of Lords, which showed:

·       The cost of the Lords – In the 2010-2015 parliament, £360,000 was claimed by Peers in years they failed to vote once. In the last Parliamentary session alone, over £100,000 was claimed by Peers who did not vote at all.

·       Independence - In the 2014-15 session nearly half (45%) of all Crossbenchers participated in 10 or fewer votes - compared to an average of just 8% of party political Peers, while a quarter of appointments to the House of Lords between 1997 and 2015 were former MPs.

·       Professional politicians – Over a third of Lords (34%) previously worked in politics. Just 1% come from manual backgrounds.

·       A supersized House - to rebalance the upper chamber strictly in line with the 2015 General Election results would require the appointment of an additional 723 members.

·       Out of date - 44% of Lords list their main addresses in London and the South East, while 54% are 70 or older.

Boundary proposals would mean record-high proportion of MPs in government

16th November 2016
16 Nov 2016

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Boundary proposals would mean record-high proportion of MPs in government

Statement from Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release 16th November 

  • Electoral Reform Society research for Parliament Week raises alarm bells over scrutiny and ability of MPs to speak out
  • Proportion of government MPs is already at historical high
  • MPs’ ability to safeguard effective Commons and power of MPs to hold government to account under threat, say ERS

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The planned cut to the number of MPs from 650 to 600 could have ‘deeply worrying’ effects for parliamentary scrutiny unless action is taken, according to research from the Electoral Reform Society.

The research [1] shows that in a 600-seat Commons, some 23% of MPs would be on the government payroll [2] if the parties’ proportion of MPs remained the same as today – an all-time high, and up from the current 21%. That would leave a record-low proportion of MPs free to scrutinise the government from the backbenches.

Moreover, the proportion of Conservative MPs on the government payroll could rise to 43% of the party’s total after the boundary review [3]. It would be the third highest ratio of government frontbench MPs to governing party backbenchers in recorded peacetime history, with the figure reaching 45% under Labour in 2005. The ERS fears this would shrink the talent pool to draw on for Select Committee positions and other vital scrutiny posts.

The analysis – which goes as far back as 1900 – also shows that the proportion of government MPs to MPs as a whole grew significantly in the 20th century – from around 10% in the 1920s to around 20% in 1990.

The ERS is calling for a cap on the proportion of payroll MPs to the Commons as a whole. A cap would prevent a ‘crisis of scrutiny’ emerging in Parliament, the ERS says.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“This research shows we risk a crisis of scrutiny if the cut in MPs goes ahead without a corresponding cap on the number of payroll MPs. Having nearly a quarter of all MPs in the pocket of the PM is not a healthy situation for our democracy.

“By cutting the size of the Commons without cutting the size of the payroll, Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the government will be weakened. Now is the time to take notice of this much-ignored but highly concerning trend.

“While having enough MPs on the payroll is essential for good government, the numbers have been inflating for decades. Being on the Prime Minister’s payroll ties MPs’ hands – they’re locked into collective responsibility, meaning they can’t speak publicly about policy failures or air important differences of opinion in parliamentary debates.

“This isn’t about party politics – it’s about the crucial role Parliament plays in holding the government of the day to account, whichever party or parties hold the keys to Number 10.

“While we celebrate the role of all MPs this Parliament Week, the role of backbench MPs of all parties – not least the governing party itself – in holding the government to account is crucial to our democracy, and needs recognising and protecting.

“With the boundary review going ahead in 2018, the government now needs to be taking steps to ensure that the power of MPs to effectively scrutinise the government won’t be put at risk. It’s time for a cap on the number of MPs on the payroll to stop this situation spiralling out of control after the cut in MPs goes ahead.  

“With nearly half of governing-party MPs on the PM’s payroll, the talent pool from Conservative backbenches for vital parliamentary roles will shrink. . That will affect everything from the calibre of Select Committees to the candour of debates in the Commons.

“It’s time for a real debate on the cut in MPs and what it will mean for representation and scrutiny in this country.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For graphs, see here:

·       Proportion of Governing Party on Payroll http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/Governing%20Party%20Payroll.png

·       Proportion of House of Commons on Payroll http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/House%20of%20Commons%20Payroll.png

[1] For the full data and sources, see here: http://electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/ERS%20-%20MPs%20payroll%20vote%20FINAL.xlsx

[2] Defined as governing-party MPs in paid, official government posts – all cabinet members, junior ministers, Parliamentary Private Secretaries and whips.

[3] The redrawing of Parliamentary constituency boundaries is happening in tandem with the cut in number of MPs to 600. The final proposals are scheduled to be published by September 2018, allowing for implementation in time for the next fixed-term General Election in 2020. Full timetable here.

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

 

New boundaries will ‘skew our democracy’, say campaigners

13th September 2016
13 Sep 2016

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Statement from Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 13th September 2015 

Electoral Reform Society call for boundaries to be based on population, not the electoral register; London and the South East both missing two seats owing to use of old register; five of top ten ‘under-represented’ areas are in London; cut in MPs alongside ‘packing the Lords’ is ‘wrong priority’

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Constituency boundaries should be drawn on the basis of population rather than an incomplete electoral register, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

On the day that the Boundary Commission released its provisional proposals for redrawing constituencies, the ERS has found that both London and the South East are missing two constituencies each as a result of over 2 million registered voters not being counted.

 

Seats in Boundary Commission 2018 review (under December 2015 register)

Seats if review had used June 2016 register

Change

Total

600

600

0

England

501

502

1

Scotland

53

53

0

Wales

29

29

0

Northern Ireland

17

16

-1

Eastern

57

56

-1

East Midlands

44

43

-1

London

68

70

2

North East

25

25

0

North West

68

67

-1

South East 

83

85

2

South West

53

53

0

West Midlands

53

53

0

Yorkshire and the Humber

50

50

0

Source: Electoral Reform Society analysis of Electoral Commission data

Looking at the ten areas where there has been the biggest increase in the electoral register between December 2015 and June 2016, five are in London (with four of these in the top five). 

Local Counting Area

Provisional Referendum Electorate

1 December 2015 Parliamentary Electorate

% Change from December 2015

Absolute Change

Lewisham

197,514

166,489

18.6%

31025

Lambeth

210,766

187,581

12.4%

23185

Camden

145,328

129,475

12.2%

15853

Tower Hamlets

167,789

150,351

11.6%

17438

Cambridge

80,099

72,457

10.5%

7642

Hackney

163,284

147,877

10.4%

15407

Lincoln

63,336

57,397

10.3%

5939

Oxford

97,309

88,382

10.1%

8927

Slough

87,868

79,826

10.1%

8042

Canterbury

109,399

99,849

9.6%

9550

Source: Electoral Reform Society analysis of Electoral Commission data

Commenting on the Boundary Commission’s provisional proposals for redrawing constituencies, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The fact that this boundary review is being conducted on the basis of registered electors, rather than the actual population, risks skewing our democracy.

“Areas with the lowest levels of registration are often those that already have the least voice in politics. Young people, some ethnic minority groups and those in the private rented sector are all less likely to register to vote than others. That makes many of them effectively cut out of the new political map.

“What’s more, the review is being undertaken on the basis of a register that’s nearly a year out of date, excluding over two million people who signed up between December and June. That means some regions are two seats short of what they are owed. 

“It would be much fairer to draw boundaries based on eligible population rather than an incomplete electoral register.”

‘Equalising’ constituencies

“Fair political boundaries are crucial to ensuring people are properly represented in Parliament. But we shouldn’t tear apart close-knit areas in a rush to ‘equalise’ numbers.

“The rigid 5% threshold – the maximum difference in size between constituencies – poses the prospect of huge disruption every five years through sparking a boundary review for every election. And it’s far too inflexible to take into account natural borders between different communities.”

A smaller commons – but a larger Lords

"Cutting the number of MPs is the wrong priority. We have a growing unelected House and a shrinking elected one. The House of Lords is a super-sized second chamber – second only to China – and shockingly poor value for money. Surely it would be more democratic to address the crisis in the House of Lords than to cut the number of elected MPs.

Power imbalance

"If you reduce the number of MPs in Parliament without reducing the number of ministers, you increase the power of the executive and make it more difficult to challenge the government. That will reduce the ability for Parliament to do its job of holding the Government to account.”

Making votes count

"The government talks about the need to 'make every vote count' through these changes. Yet the best way to do that – the elephant in the room – is the need for a proportional and fair voting system.

“If the government really cares about making votes matter, they should concentrate on reforming the voting system.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information, quotes or comment, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630, josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Report: Mistakes of EU referendum campaign should ‘never be repeated’

1st September 2016
1 Sep 2016
Tags: 
EU referendum
EU

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  • Electoral Reform Society launch report into conduct of EU referendum, featuring unreleased polling on ‘dire state of debate’
  • ‘It’s Good to Talk: Doing Referendums Differently After the EU Vote’ calls for ‘root and branch review’ of how referendums are conducted in future
  • Society publishes nine key recommendations for ‘referendum reform’
  • Report link available HERE

Electoral Reform Society press release, embargoed for 00:01, Thursday 1st September
Contact: Josiah Mortimer, Communications Officer - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630. www.electoral-reform.org.uk

The Electoral Reform Society say the ‘glaring democratic deficiencies’ of the EU referendum debate must never be allowed to happen again.

Launching their landmark EU referendum report into the conduct of the referendum, ‘It’s Good to Talk: Doing Referendums Differently After the EU Vote’, the Society have called for a ‘root and branch review’ of the role and conduct of referendums in our democracy.

As part of the report, the ERS has published polling showing that far too many people felt they were ill-informed about the vote; and that the ‘big beast’ personalities did not appear to engage or convince voters. The polling also shows that voters viewed both sides as increasingly negative as the campaign wore on.

The Society are arguing that the EU debate was in stark contrast to the Scottish independence referendum, which featured a ‘vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life’.

A review is now needed to ensure future referendums don’t repeat the errors of the EU vote in terms of failing to foster a genuine, informed discussion among the public, the ERS says.

The report makes nine key recommendations to improve the conduct of future referendums [see note 1]. These include:

  • Tasking an official public body to intervene when misleading claims are made by the campaigns
  • Ofcom to conduct a review into an appropriate role for broadcasters to play in referendums
  • Early publication of a definitive rule-book to govern campaign conduct, followed by a minimum six-month regulated campaign period
  • Extending votes at 16 UK-wide, following its ‘huge success’ in energising the Scottish referendum
  • A robust role for the public at every phase - from a citizens’ panel tasked with pre-legislative scrutiny of any referendum bill, through to publicly-funded resources to stimulate citizen-led debates and deliberation across the UK

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“This report shows without a shadow of a doubt just how dire the EU referendum debate really was. There were glaring democratic deficiencies in the run-up to the vote, with the public feeling totally ill-informed. Both sides were viewed as highly negative by voters, while the top-down, personality-based nature of the debate failed to address major policies and issues, leaving the public in the dark.

“It offered a stark contrast to the vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation of the Scottish independence vote ­– a referendum that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life.

“From a campaign period that was too short to foster a decent debate, to the fact that misleading claims could be made with total impunity, there are so many lessons to be learned – and this report lays out both the facts and the way forward.

“Now that the dust is starting to settle after the EU referendum, we need a complete rethink about the role of referendums in the UK. They are becoming more common, but the piecemeal nature of the how, when and why they’re done means we could simply end up jumping from referendum to referendum at the whim of politicians.

“It’s time for a root and branch review of referendums, learning the lessons of the EU campaign to make sure the mistakes that were made in terms of regulation, tone and conduct are never repeated. Let’s make sure that future referendums guarantee the lively and well-informed discussion that voters deserve."

For more information or to arrange an interview, comment piece or coverage in advance, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer - josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630

Notes

Graphs/images are available for free use for the polling on:

[1] The full recommendations are:

Laying the groundwork

  • Mandatory pre-legislative scrutiny for any Bill on a referendum, lasting at least three months, with citizens’ involvement
  • A minimum six-month regulated campaigning period to ensure time for a proper public discussion
  • A definitive ‘rulebook’ to be published, setting out technical aspects of the vote, as soon as possible after the passing of any referendum Bill

Better information

  • A ‘minimum data set’ or impartial information guide to be published at the start of the regulated campaigning period
  • An official body should be given the task of intervening when misleading claims are made by the campaigns
  • Citizenship education to be extended in schools alongside UK-wide extension of votes at 16

More deliberation

  • The government should fund a resource for stimulating deliberative discussion and debate about the referendum
  • An official body should be tasked with providing a toolkit for members of the public to host their own debates and deliberative events on the referendum
  • Ofcom should conduct a review into an appropriate role for broadcasters to play in referendums, with the aim of making coverage and formats more deliberative rather than combative