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Orders of the Day — European Assembly Elections Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 1977.

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Photo of Mr Brynmor John Mr Brynmor John , Pontypridd 12:00 am, 7th July 1977

My answers to the hon. Gentleman are "No" and "No". I am using no threat. I am trying to be helpful by indicating the Government's thoughts and clarifying many of the points that were raised yesterday. The hon. Gentleman is not right to read a threat into that or to imply blackmail. That is no part of my duty or my inclination.

A number of hon. Members mentioned the one-off nature of the elections and the question of subsequent elections. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has explained that the Bill is directed primarily to making provision for the first elections to the European Assembly. The Treaty of Rome envisages that there will eventually be a uniform electoral system in use throughout the Community, and it will be for hon. Members to make their own judgment about whether the Nine EEC States will be able to agree such a uniform electoral system in time for the second round of elections.

If not, the Bill does not limit the time when the particular method of election should expire. If no Community provision were made in the first five years, by the time the second election came along Parliament would have had ample opportunity, having considered the experience of the first round of elections and the method used, if necessary to substitute another preferred method at that stage. So it is a one-off election in that sense.

Finally on this particular part of my clarification of the Bill, I come to the speeches of the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire, and my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson). They both discussed the allocation of seats to Wales and Scotland.

The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire said frankly that only an independent Scotland could expect 16 seats. I repeat what my right hon. Friend said yesterday this is a united kingdom and there is a United Kingdom allocation of 81 seats. More seats can be granted to one part of the country only at the expense of the allocation to other parts of the country. The Government have accepted the Select Committee's division of the seats among the component parts.