Proportional Representation: House of Commons — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:44 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford 4:44 pm, 23rd April 2019

It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I am one of the few parliamentarians to have been elected under both the first-past-the-post system, as a Member of this Parliament, and a proportional representation system—I was elected twice to the European Parliament.

Some people say proportional representation will lead to a more consensual approach to decision making. I have seen that consensus sometimes does occur more in the European Parliament than people occasionally perceive to be the case here, but in my experience from the past couple of years, there are many areas of Westminster in which decision making happens along consensus lines; I think especially of the work we do in Select Committees and on all-party parliamentary groups. On the other hand, I have seen fundamental flaws in the proportional representation system, and we should be very careful when thinking about adopting changes to our system.

Let me take Members back 10 years to 2009, when European elections were held at the height of the expenses scandal. The turnout was very low, which meant people could get elected with only a very small number of voters turning up to support them. Two members of the British National party were elected, with fewer than 3% of the voters supporting them. At the time, that party would not allow someone to join as a member unless their face was white. Those people were given seats in the European Parliament. They were given credibility and respectability.