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I thank my hon. Friend for that response. I understand the practical problems associated with changing the voting system in time for the 2007 elections, but does my hon. Friend agree that it would be possible to introduce legislation in this Parliament to change it in time for the elections in 2011?
My hon. Friend is quite right to say that we have ruled out the possibility of legislating in advance of the 2007 elections. They are only just over a year away, and preparations for them are very much under way. I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Arbuthnott commission for the work that they have done. We now need to respect their work by giving it the most careful consideration possible.
When considering the Arbuthnott commission's report, will the Minister pay special attention to its observations on the benefits of having a system of proportional representation for UK parliamentary elections? Although that was not one of the report's recommendations, it was a subject on which the commission took evidence. Will the Minister give the matter careful consideration when responding to the report?
We all welcome the hard work that went into the Arbuthnott commission's report, but many of us were disappointed at one aspect of it in particular, namely that it did not recommend the abolition of the practice of standing in the list and in a first-past-the-post election. Will the Minister assure us that that matter will be considered when these issues come before Parliament?
My hon. Friend is quite right to point out that Sir John Arbuthnott did not recommend that change; indeed, he specifically recommended that it should not be made. No such change will be made before the 2007 elections, and any change that could be made would undoubtedly affect only subsequent elections.