Better late than never
Good to see the Government coming round to Alternative Vote (or Supplementary Vote as per the London Mayor election) for the Commons, PR for the Lords and compulsory voting if this is to be believed.
Any measure that increases voter choice and reduces the number of MPs elected on a minority vote should be welcomed.
However, the Government needs to go back to the Jenkins Report and get their heads round why the Jenkins Commission recommended AV+. The "+" means that as well as electing constituency MPs in single member seats by transferable voting (the Australian system) you would have a small top-up list in each region, to bring the representation of the parties in each region nearer to their percentage share of the vote e.g. if say Labour got 20% of the vote in Surrey but no constituency MPs, it might be entitled to a couple of top-up list MPs to compensate it.
Why is this important?
1) AV by itself whilst it increases voter choice can cause even more gross disproportionality in a landslide election than our current First-Past-The-Post system does. For instance in 1997 Labour and Lib Dem voters would most likely have transferred to each other so the Tories would have been left with only about 100 seats for 30% of the vote under AV alone. Amusing, but not democratic. The "+" bit corrects some of the disproportionality.
2) AV by itself does not remove the "electoral deserts" that are a major fault of FPTP - e.g. the absence of Labour MPs in the rural south even though Labour gets hundreds of thousands of votes there, and the mirror lack of Tory representation in urban areas. These "electoral deserts" skew people's perceptions of the parties, and make them less response to voters in all parts of the country than national parties should be in a healthy democracy, because areas are "written off". This is bad both for unrepresented minority voters in the areas concerned, and bad for the political parties. Ultimately it is bad for social cohesion - it would be possible for the Tories to win power under FPTP or AV with hardly any urban or Scottish MPs which would be deeply alienating for the areas wholly represented by the opposition.