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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:49 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 5:49 pm, 23rd April 2019

Everyone has a choice as to how they use their vote. Even under the alternative vote system, which the Liberal Democrats argued for in the referendum seven years ago, people would find themselves having to make a decision when they got to their second or third choice, and in fact, their vital choice might be the fourth or fifth one, which they did not believe would necessarily be the vital one.

People have a choice and they know the impact of their vote and how it might choose a Government. Under any voting system, people have a choice to make about how they wish to use their vote: do they wish to vote for a major party that may select and put forward the Prime Minister or for a minor party so that it can be represented in the House of Commons? I do not think that any voting system, particularly if we want to maintain the constituency link, which many hon. Members have said is important, or if we have single-Member constituencies and a Member of Parliament already secures more than 50% of the votes cast, will change the overall outcome.

The first-past-the-post system is a clear and robust way of electing Members of Parliament. It is well understood by the electorate, and they know how their representatives in Parliament are selected and the impact of their vote. Crucially, it ensures a clear link between elected representative and constituent in a manner that proportional representation systems do not. That ensures that MPs can represent the interests of their constituents when debating national issues. The Government therefore do not support proportional representation for parliamentary elections because they consider it to be more opaque and complicated without delivering the clear benefits of the first-past-the-post system.