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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 Dr Colin Phipps Dr Colin Phipps , Dudley West 12:00 am, 7th July 1977

I take my hon. Friend's point. I have heard all the arguments against proportional representation that are based on the results that it produces in the government of the various countries. But we could find examples of that under any system of dictatorships of the Left, Right or Centre—examples of all systems producing good and bad Governments. Many European countries have systems of PR and they are not noticeably worse governed than we are. In fact, I suspect, that some are better governed. It is not the system that produces good or bad Governments.

If Conservatives insist on the first-past-the-post system this may produce a system of representation to the European Parliament that will defeat the very objectives that they hold dear, namely, our continued membership of that institution, and its success.

Let me turn to the argument of those Labour Members who oppose PR. I am not among those who believe that a system of PR would necessarily result in the Labour Party doing badly. Indeed, I think that the Labour Party would do much better than many people believe. I do not hold the view that there would be only a 20 or 30 per cent. poll. I expect the British electorate to be as interested in European elections as they were in the referendum. I do not expect the Labour Party to do particularly badly, but it ill becomes many of my hon. Friends who are in the forefront of attempts to widen democracy within the Labour Party—a matter with which I have great sympathy—to seek to deprive the British electorate of a greater extension of democracy in the election of their representatives to Europe.