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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:54 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich 4:54 pm, 23rd April 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I rise to speak in support of the motion. Undoubtedly, this country’s current voting arrangements do not adequately reflect the diversity of opinion that there now is among the electorate. I pay tribute to Angela Smith for raising this issue for debate.

There are many different forms of proportional representation, some of which have been touched on briefly. We had a referendum on AV, in which AV was universally defeated—rightly so, because under that system the candidate who comes fourth could become the Member of Parliament if they were the least disliked. That may be an argument in favour of AV, but those who believe in a constituency link find it difficult to argue that the person who came third or fourth should eventually go on to become a Member of Parliament. We also have single transferable vote, and then we have proportional representation.

We have talked a little about the merits of first past the post. It was traditionally argued that that system tends to deliver strong government—arguably, that is not the case at the moment. It maintains a constituency link, but some forms of proportional representation also do that. It also—this is the strongest argument in its favour—tends to be a bulwark against the entryism of extremist minority parties. In the 2015 election, even though the UK Independence party received 13% or 14% of the vote, it gained only one seat, which to my mind shows at least some benefit, in that first past the post keeps some of those minority parties out.