HC Deb 19 June 1958 vol 589 cc1306-7
43. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals Her Majesty's Government have for introducing the alternative vote or other modifications of the existing electoral system.

52. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider the introduction of legislation to make provision for proportional representation in the election of Members to the House of Commons.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Her Majesty's Government have no proposals to make for altering the present electoral system.

Mr. Fletcher

May we take it from that that the Home Secretary agrees that an attempt to make any fundamental change in the electoral law between one General Election and another without a mandate from the people would be quite unconstitutional?

Mr. Butler

In any case, I do not think that the time is appropriate. I do not like the method, and I certainly do not think that it should be done unilaterally.

Sir F. Medlicott

Looking around the existing House, is it not clear that the existing electoral system is both effective and discriminating, but that it is not perfect and not necessarily permanent? Should we not always be alive at least to the possibility of improvement?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. We should always live in hope of improving human endeavour, but the only way in which the House can be improved is if we have a larger majority on this side.

Mr. C. Pannell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is better to have people elected on the first choice of the electorate rather than to have a majority of bad second choices?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I think that love at first sight is usually best.