JUSTICE – PR & THE BNP – 16 June 2009

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr Michael Wills): I would like very much to recommend to my hon. Friend [Mark Lazarowicz] the review of voting systems that this Department produced last year. It assessed different voting systems, and he will be well aware that we now have a whole range of voting systems in this country – a cornucopia of them – so we can assess the evidence of how they all work. The review assessed them against a number of criteria, including proportionality, voter participation, ease of voting and so on. It found that no system of voting is inherently fairer than any other, and it is certainly not the case that a proportional system is necessarily fairer than any other system. I emphasise that proportional systems tend inherently to produce coalition Governments. That may be a good thing for some parties, but it might not be a good thing for the country. First-past-the-post systems tend to produce clear majority winners and stable government. Although they tend to hand power to the biggest minority, the practice of forming coalition Governments often tends to hand power to the est minority. There is nothing inherently fair about that.

Dr Julian Lewis: In endorsing that outstandingly good answer from the Minister, may I also remind him that there is no way that the British National Party or other poisonous extremists could ever get elected to a democratic Parliament, other than by proportional representation?

Mr Wills: I thank the hon. Gentleman, and I commend to him, too, the review of voting systems, which made precisely that point about extreme minority parties.