Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 17:28 UK

Referendums debate part one

There should be "a presumption against" holding referendums on the same day as other polls in the UK, the chairman of the Lords constitution committee has said, and they should "certainly not" coincide with general elections.

On 12 October 2010, Baroness Jay of Paddington, a Labour ex-cabinet minister and daughter of Labour former prime minister the late Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, made the comments as she opened a Lords debate on her committee's report on referendums.

The report, published shortly before the general election, advised against holding referendums on the same day as other polls, but suggested that this should be judged "on a case-by-case basis" by the Electoral Commission.

The government, in its response last week, agreed that a case-by-case approach was "appropriate", depending on the combination of polls and the issues being considered.

But ministers saw "no reason in principle" why referendums could not be held on the same day as other polls, in the same way that general elections sometimes coincide with local polls.

Lady Jay noted the "very widespread concern" among MPs about the timing of the referendum on the alternative vote, whereby voters list candidates in order of preference.

Labour's general election manifesto had promised a national referendum on reform of the House of Lords, and Labour peers want to add this to the government's bill.

But Lady Jay, who as Lords Leader in 1999 piloted the legislation that evicted most of the hereditary peers, noted that her committee had not regarded Lords reform as of sufficient constitutional importance as to merit a referendum.

Watch part two of the debate here.

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