CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS – ELECTORAL SYSTEM – 22 June 2005

[The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): ... Although I am sure that it would cause no concern among Labour Members to lose Tory representation in England and Wales, it is strange to hear that that is Opposition policy.]

Dr Julian Lewis: The Right hon. and Learned Lady finds such things strange, but we take a principled position that, if a system is wrong, we should not abide by it, even if it benefits us. She said that one of the effects was that the Conservatives won more seats. Another effect is that the Liberals, who come third and fourth in such elections, get into government. Those are wholly disproportionate results.

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Dr Lewis: Before the hon. Gentleman [David Heath] moves on, may I refer him back to a couple of interventions that he took from Labour Members? They did not seem to dispute his point that the system is wide open to fraud, but simply tried to say that not many cases of that fraud had yet been discovered. When designing an electoral system, surely the point is that it should not be open to fraud and that it should not be incumbent on us to do the work of detectives to determine whether fraud is being committed. The point is that if fraud can take place, it might be committed without us knowing about it, so we should close the loopholes.

[For Julian's speech later in this Debate, click here.]