HC Deb 23 July 2002 vol 389 c996W
Mrs. May

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission when he will answer the questions from the hon. Member for Maidenhead of 11 March(a) on the electoral systems used for elections to (i) the office of London Mayor, (ii) the Greater London Assembly, (iii) the Scottish Parliament and (iv) the Welsh Assembly, (b) on the closed list electoral system for the European Parliament, (c) concerning the electoral system used for electing the House, (d) concerning electoral systems that may be used for electing the elected element of a reformed second chamber in Parliament and (e) concerning electoral systems used for electing directly-elected mayors in England and Wales. [71490]

Mr. Beith

I have already written to apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in replying to her questions of 11 March. At the time she asked similar questions of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. I regret that her separate questions to the Speaker's Committee were not noticed. Each of her questions sought information on the plans of the Electoral Commission for work in the areas listed. This answer deals with all five of them.

I understand that the Electoral Commission has no plans to carry out any reviews of existing or proposed electoral systems in the UK. However, the Commission will, in accordance with its statutory duties, report on the administration of elections to the European, United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments, and elections to the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. No such duty exists in relation to other elections mentioned, although the Commission is required to keep under review, and from time-to-time submit reports to the Secretary of State on, a range of elections and referendums including local elections in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is expected that these statutory election reports from the Electoral Commission will examine a wide range of issues linked to the administration and conduct of the election in question, including levels of voter participation and public understanding of the voting system. However, the Commission has taken the view that it would not be appropriate for it to adopt any policy view in relation to the merits of current or alternative systems of voting while there is a prospect of the Government asking the Commission to conduct a referendum on the use of a form or proportional representation for voting in elections to the House of Commons.