HL Deb 24 March 1986 vol 472 cc1151-2
Lord Banks

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can confirm that they are pressing for the adoption of a uniform system of election to the European Parliament in time for the 1989 election, and whether they will report on the progress made towards this end.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, the initiative rests with the European Parliament, which is required to submit proposals to the Council of Ministers. I understand that the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliament has prepared a report containing proposals for uniform elections, but these have not yet been considered by the Parliament.

Lord Banks

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. May I ask him whether he is aware that we on these Benches regard the early introduction of a uniform system as essential? Do the Government accept that in order to secure agreement the uniform system must be proportional? By what date has legislation to pass through this Parliament in order that a uniform system may be operative for the 1989 election?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I am well aware of the interest of the noble Lord and his party in this matter. We hope that agreement can be reached, but it is not for us to take any initiative while the matter is still with the European Parliament for it to make its proposals. We shall become actively involved if proposals are put by the Parliament to the Council of Ministers. So far as dates are concerned, we estimate that agreement would have to be reached in time for the necessary legislation to be introduced in the 1987–88 Session of Parliament in order to have the effect the noble Lord would like.

Lord Bottomley

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the government and the alternate government is the best system for this country? It has served our country for generations past and it assures security and peace.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I very much agree with the noble Lord, as no doubt he would expect. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter would also agree, since I believe I heard assenting noises from my right.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, will not the Government view favourably a uniform system of elections to the European Parliament, provided that system were one of the first past the post?

Lord Glenarthur

Yes, my Lords, particularly if it gets universal agreement.

Baroness White

My Lords, does the noble Lord recognise that there is not universal agreement even on his own Benches? The European Parliament is different in character from the type of Parliament we enjoy in this country. It might more properly be called a European Assembly. Considerations are very different, as has been mentioned in this House on previous occasions.

Lord Glenarthur

Yes, my Lords, I am aware of the fact that there are differences of view on this side of the House as well. I am also aware of the fact that European elections are somewhat different. What I think is essential is that there is uniform agreement in Europe for the adoption of any proposals.

Back to