HC Deb 14 February 2000 vol 344 cc601-2
14. Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

What representations he has received on the report of the Jenkins Commission on reform of the electoral system. [108248]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mike O'Brien)

We have received several hundred representations both for and against the proposals made by the Jenkins commission.

Mr. Bercow

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Given that our electoral system is used in 62 countries and by no less than 49 per cent. of the world's electors and that there is no evidence of a public demand for change, will the Minister confirm to the House that he will fight, fight and fight again to save the system that works? What better day's work could he do than to slap down Lord Jenkins, the Foreign Secretary and the people whom his boss, the Home Secretary, has described as the "scavengers of British politics"—the Liberal Democrats?

Mr. O'Brien

The straight answer is that setting up the independent commission on the voting system was a way of offering the people of this country an opportunity to vote on a suggested system. It is part of our manifesto commitment, which we intend to honour.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Will my hon. Friend admit that we have seen enough of the failures of the proportional representation system and that the best thing to do with the Jenkins proposals is dump them in the waste bin, where they belong?

Mr. O'Brien

I suspect that there are many who share that view on this side of the House. [Laughter.] Perhaps I should say on both sides of the House.