CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS – PR & GUILLOTINES – 25 May 2010

Dr Julian Lewis: I am afraid that my hon. Friend [Christopher Chope] is unlikely to be so persuaded, because that situation is par for the course in proportional representation systems, which create shifting coalition Governments. I shall give a classic example. On a visit to Slovenia after the fall of communism, I was told that one day two centre parties in a centre-right coalition fell out with their partners about something to do with passport legislation and decided to cross the floor. The people of Slovenia went to bed one night with a centre-right coalition and woke up the following morning with a centre-left coalition, without a single vote having been cast by any elector. It is no good my hon. Friend's grumbling about that or anticipating it with fear - the reality is that it is the logical consequence of hung Parliaments, coalitions and proportional representation. That is why all those things are undesirable, although sometimes we have to live with the consequences of undesirable outcomes.

[Mr Chope: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that powerful intervention. At the moment, we have not yet signed up to the fixed-term Parliament or the 55% lock.]

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Dr Lewis: I thank the hon. Gentleman [Deputy Leader of the House, David Heath] for giving way so generously. I was reassured by what he said earlier about the lack of a guillotine on the legislation. Would he like to take this opportunity to say whether that will be the Government's new general policy on guillotines or whether it is specific only to this legislation? I remember, time after time, quite rightly being sent into the No Lobby to vote against guillotine motion after guillotine motion. I trust that we will be carrying into government the opposition to guillotines that we indicated when in opposition.

[Mr Heath: The hon. Gentleman will have noticed that I was in the same Lobby voting against those guillotine motions. That is why it is our clear intention not to apply automatic guillotines or automatic programme motions, because we do not believe that to be in the interests of proper consideration in this House. This is the new politics-the new way that we are going to run this House of Commons.]