European Parliamentary Elections Bill — Minor and consequential amendments of Schedule 1 to the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 — 12 Mar 1998
I beg to move amendment No. 8, in page 5, line 24, at end insert
', but no such order shall be made until the Secretary of State has submitted a report to both Houses of Parliament giving details of the calculations carried out in the course of the procedure mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a) above.'.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 9, leave out lines 15 to 28.
Let me say at the outset that this is a probing amendment. The fact that at this late stage in our consideration of the Bill, the last amendment to be considered on Report is a probing amendment says something about the nature of the Bill and its lack of clarity. A parliamentary election based on huge electoral
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regions under a proportional representation system will be a wholly new experience for the people of Great Britain. More to the point, it will be a wholly new experience for the people charged with the conduct of the election. It is the lack of any detail on the face of the Bill about how the election will be conducted that prompts us to seek clarification of some of that detail through the amendment and the short debate on it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn .
Order for Third Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
We have had many hours of debate--appropriately, on the Floor of the House, as this is a constitutional measure. I explained earlier to the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill), and to the House in November, that I have always subscribed to the view that there is no single perfect electoral system for all purposes. When we consider which voting system to introduce to any particular institution, we need to consider the nature of the powers and functions of the body concerned.
The European Parliament is a representative body, and not a Parliament from which a Government are drawn. The United Kingdom can only return 87 Members to it, which means inevitably that Members of the European Parliament can never enjoy the same close links with those who elect them as Members of this Parliament do with their constituents. Moreover--regardless of whether people endorse it--the European Union already works at a regional, as well as at a national, level.
Those considerations led a committee, which was chaired by my noble Friend Lord Plant of Highfield, to propose to the Labour party that the most appropriate
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system for electing MEPs was a regional one, which placed a premium on proportionality. That proposal was endorsed by the Labour party at its conference in 1993; it became a commitment in our manifesto, which was endorsed by the British people on 1 May last year.
Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:--
The House divided: Ayes 198, Noes 87.
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