New Forest East

DEMOCRACY – PR – 17 January 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: Does my right hon. Friend [Sir George Young] agree that for many years the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors have argued that what comprises fair votes is a system that would give proportionality between the votes cast and the number of MPs elected? Is it not remarkable that they should therefore be willing to consider AV, which as my right hon. Friend pointed out, would give a disproportionate result, but which – it just so happens – would enable the Liberal Democrats to get many more seats?

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Dr Lewis: I thank the hon. Gentleman [Richard Burden] for his great courtesy in giving way to me. He rightly pointed out the occasional perversity whereby, once in a while, the party that wins the largest number of votes does not win a majority of seats. However, does he not accept that a far more frequent perversity operates under PR, which is that, because it is essential to build a majority for a coalition Government, a party with a low level of support in the country is offered posts of an influence disproportionately greater than its support could possibly bring it?