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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 James Spicer Mr James Spicer , West Dorset 12:00 am, 7th July 1977

Of necessity, this will be a very truncated speech. I follow very much along the line indicated by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) in terms of the regional list. It is a miserable system, which none of us should look at.

In the South-West we shall be given six Members for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that those six Members, once elected, will have no individual responsibility. They will be chasing each other round that region, irrespective of party, each of them trying to make the best of whatever publicity opportunities come his way. I certainly could not vote for such a system.

Equally, I find myself in a difficulty concerning the first-past-the-post system. I cherish the link between the Member of Parliament and the constituency and would hold very strongly to it. At the same time, I can see that there would be considerable difficulties in trying to find universal agreement.

In my evidence to the Select Committee I made it quite clear that there might come a time in this House when we would need to find a compromise. I am horrified that the Government have included in their Bill the very worst possible system—[Interruption.] — the regional list, which even their friends in the Liberal Party, through their leader tonight, have admitted is the worst possible system. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that he would much rather have another system.