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Electoral Reform

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th February 2000.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Minister (Education) 12:00 am, 14th February 2000

What representations he has received on the report of the Jenkins Commission on reform of the electoral system. [108248]

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

We have received several hundred representations both for and against the proposals made by the Jenkins commission.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Minister (Education)

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Given that our electoral system is used in 62 countries and by no less than 49 per cent. of the world's electors and that there is no evidence of a public demand for change, will the Minister confirm to the House that he will fight, fight and fight again to save the system that works? What better day's work could he do than to slap down Lord Jenkins, the Foreign Secretary and the people whom his boss, the Home Secretary, has described as the "scavengers of British politics"—the Liberal Democrats?

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

The straight answer is that setting up the independent commission on the voting system was a way of offering the people of this country an opportunity to vote on a suggested system. It is part of our manifesto commitment, which we intend to honour.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike Labour, Burnley

Will my hon. Friend admit that we have seen enough of the failures of the proportional representation system and that the best thing to do with the Jenkins proposals is dump them in the waste bin, where they belong?

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

I suspect that there are many who share that view on this side of the House. [Laughter.] Perhaps I should say on both sides of the House.