HC Deb 03 April 1978 vol 947 cc7-8
3. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Wales which organisations and how many individuals have made representations to him to date in favour of a first-past-the-post electoral system for the Welsh Assembly.

Mr. John Morris

No organisations or individuals have made specific representations to me in favour of a first-past-the-post system for Welsh Assembly elections.

Mr. Knox

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that this shows very little enthusiasm for the electoral provisions of the Wales Bill? Will he use his influence on his colleagues in the Government to get them to amend the Wales Bill so that the elections will be by a system of proportional representation, which would be much fairer?

Mr. Morris

As regards enthusiasm, I have received 1,900 letters from individuals and only 17 specifically came out in favour of proportional representation. Out of 160 organisations, in like manner, only nine came out in favour of proportional representation.

On the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, the House discussed this matter on 1st March and, by a substantial majority, came down against proportional representation.

Mr. Kinnock

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree, from his knowledge of Wales, that the reason for there being no representations on either side for or against PR in the conduct of the Welsh Assembly elections is that people in Wales know that they will never get to that, because, fortunately, the Government have provided for a referendum which will ensure that the present proposals are sunk without trace whenever we have the referendum?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend will fight that battle when he comes to it.

Mr. Wigley

Given that we are to have a referendum, will not the Secretary of State take the opportunity to put a question on the method of election in view of the fact that 70 per cent. or more of the population have indicated that they prefer the PR method of election?

Mr. Morris

I thought that the House had dealt with this matter on 1st March, We had a full debate. I replied to the debate, and there was a substantial majority against proportional representation.