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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:20 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Conservative, Daventry 5:20 pm, 23rd April 2019

I am sorry that I did not stand at the last point, Mr Evans; I thought there were more people behind me. I congratulate Angela Smith on the way she introduced the subject, and I welcome the Minister to his seat in this room, and to his new post as a Minister in the Department. I wish him all the very best.

I stand to speak because, like my hon. Friend Vicky Ford, I was a Member of the European Parliament, so I was elected twice by proportional representation. I was also a student union politician and was elected once by single transferable vote—thank you very much indeed, Socialist Workers party, which managed to flip six votes into my pile at one point to get me elected. I want to raise some points of criticism—constructively, I hope—in this debate.

I understand that democracy has to evolve. It always will, and it absolutely should. I am slightly wary of raising this, but there is an elephant in the room: 52% of people voted in a referendum quite recently, and the democrats in this room are now ignoring it. I would say that is a bit of a problem. Christine Jardine talked about 44% of votes cast in the last general election being meaningless, but at this point, I think that 52% of people are feeling that way about their vote in the greatest expression of a democratic vote. As democrats, we should be looking to work out how we can represent people.

I am not in favour of proportional representation. I am in favour of more direct democracy. As a Member of the European Parliament, I saw how proportional representation of a type meant that Belgium could not find a coalition Government for more than a year, because it could not find the group of people who would sit with all the other groups of people in a room to form a proper Government. I sat in a European Parliament to which fascists had been elected because of the type of list system. I sat in a European Parliament where I knew that everyone in the place, including myself, was probably talking to their selectorate, rather than their electorate, because of the way people are selected for list systems under all types of proportional representation.

I fear for the constituency link that so many of us in this place prize. One of the reasons I desperately wanted to get into this place was to represent a community I lived in and truly love. There are other systems that can evolve democracy. I like direct democracy. I have no problem with referendums, though I think we have probably seen the last of them in my lifetime. I have no problem with the California system, or with the direct democracy that the Swiss have. There are other ways of evolving our democracy; proportional representation is not the only one.