Elections (House of Commons)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1999.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 12:00 am, 26th April 1999

What recent representations he has received about changes to the voting system for election to the House of Commons. [80972]

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Secretary of State for the Home Department

We have received a number of representations, both for and against changing the voting system for elections to the House of Commons.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I do not have much enthusiasm for any change in the voting system for elections to the House? Is it not a fact that, in the recent referendum in Italy, those who bothered to vote—the majority of the electorate did not—voted overwhelmingly to bring back a system similar to the one that we use in Britain?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The turnout in the Italian referendum was 49.6 per cent. and of those—just under 50 per cent.—90 per cent. voted in favour of a change towards the first-pastthe-post system—which is a consideration to be borne in mind.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Is the Home Secretary aware that Italy is not alone in this? Israel is also considering moving to a first-past-the-post system because proportional representation leads to weak and ineffective government.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am aware of some concerns in Israel about the system there. I have also noted that even the most evangelical supporters of proportional representation in this country have not gone as far as to recommend the Israeli system.