Orders of the Day — House of Commons (Redistri Bution of Seats) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th October 1944.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities 12:00 am, 10th October 1944

That is a perfectly simple matter. It has been suggested that in a multiple constituency immediately upon an election each Member in the area in question should choose the section of the constituency with which he would specially be associated. The senior Member would have first choice, and would naturally choose the part where most of his supporters would be. In the case of the death of one of the Members the ensuing by-election would take place in that section of the constituency. The alternative is to have the election for the whole area which would be more expensive, and would not perhaps correspond in every way to the result that we get at present from a by-election.

I want, in conclusion, to ask the House to face the fact that this is not a matter which can just conveniently be put off to a happy day in the future when we or our successors reconsider the improvement of our Parliamentary institutions. There is a special reason why we ought to think of this now. It is the need of Europe, the need of this poor world of ours, our own need at Home, the need, in facing the international problems that are before us, and-our own internal and social problems, that we should have the very best contribution that every section of the community can bring to the common good. It is surely a terrible mistake to think, as some do, that when the fighting in Europe ceases, we shall be entering into a calm and quiet haven of peace. When that day comes—and may it come soon—we shall be going forth into a stormy troublous sea with dangerous reefs in its waters, and hidden rocks. We shall need all the unity that we can command. We shall need the very best services that every party and all citizens of every party can render to the common cause. If we can get that, as we may, by such a reform as this, we shall be helping not only the well-being of our country, but we shall be giving an example to other countries in Europe that need it even more. Think of the divisions that will happen in some of the countries that are being liberated or are about to be liberated from Nazi tyranny, of the need for national unity and co-operation, and how that might be helped forward by a just system of Proportional Representa- tion. If we are willing to go forward with such a reform, we shall not only secure a better basis for our own progress in the future, but be able to hand on all those advantages of the civilisation that is past and go forward to build securely the foundations for a nobler civilisation for our children in the days to come.