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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

I agree with my hon. Friend, who has direct practical experience of the situation in Scotland. We all have direct practical experience of the impact of the European election results last year.

One of the disadvantages of amendment No. 29 is that if the House were to examine the voting system used in the European elections, which I understand many Opposition Members want us to do, the Electoral Commission, by virtue of amendment No. 29, could not take part in explaining the new system.

We are in danger of having a reverse section 28 debate which rules out any debate about electoral reform or change, and prevents the major institution established by the Bill from playing a part in that process.

There are occasions when one knows that the House is not with one in these matters, but it is still necessary to say in the plainest and most direct terms that the draft legislation contained an opportunity which I am sorry to see the Minister withdrawing today.