Orders of the Day — European Parliamentary Elections Bill
Mr Jack Straw (Home Secretary; Blackburn, Labour)
I shall give way in a moment.
However, I am willing to look—I do not say that we have signed up to them—at the proposals that we received after the Bill's publication from the Liberal Democrats and from Charter 88 for a modification of our simple list system. Under that modification, it will be open to electors to vote for the party list as a party list, if they wish to do so. It happens in Belgium. The majority—I think the overwhelming majority—of voters, offered that free choice, do so, but it will also be open to voters to vote, if they wish, for an individual candidate on the party list. When it comes to the allocation of seats within the total that a particular party has won, those personal votes are added to the votes that it received.
I hope that we can achieve—because I happen to think that it is the House that should decide these things—a serious debate on the merits of that proposal, as opposed to the proposal in the original Bill. I have not come to a firm view. I certainly believe that the old complicated system in the 1978 Act has many disadvantages, but I can see the argument in favour of this one. I am willing to have it discussed.