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Education About Electoral and Democratic Systems

Part of Orders of the Day — Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 14th February 2000.

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Photo of Andrew Stunell Andrew Stunell Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 10:45 pm, 14th February 2000

We oppose the amendments. We are sorry that the Government are moving to accept them, although we fully understand the reasoning that has been advanced. On another day and at an earlier time, there may be an opportunity to engage in the debate that we are all skirting around, about the relative merits of various voting systems.

The shadow Leader of the House remarked that one system would advantage one party and disadvantage another. In the debate about electoral systems and in the philosophy underlying the Electoral Commission and the Bill, the essential element is the need to strike a balance, not just between different political parties but between different political interests in the United Kingdom. We lay great emphasis on the fair treatment and representation of the people of the United Kingdom, even if that sometimes costs parties the power and influence that they would like individually to exercise.

The real issue to which the clause and the amendments are directed is whether the Electoral Commission can succeed in getting people more involved in and excited by politics. We must face the fact that people are increasingly disenchanted with the existing political process.