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House of Commons Hansard
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14 October 1943
Volume 392

47.

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asked the Prime Minister whether it is now proposed to give the House an opportunity of discussing questions of electoral reform?

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Yes, Sir. The Government propose to give time for a Debate on electoral reform.

As the House is aware, a Bill has been presented to give effect to the scheme recommended by the Departmental Committee on Electoral Machinery. The Government are fully conscious of the importance of giving attention to all measures designed to secure that whenever there is an appeal to the country—whether at by-elections or at a General Election—the result shall be fully and truly representative of the views of the people. It will no doubt be the wish of the House, as it is of the Government, that this Measure should be passed before the end of the present Session. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has also announced the Government's intention to submit to Parliament legislation on the subject of redistribution.

In addition, however, to measures of this kind designed to improve the machinery by which the existing Parliamentary franchise is exercised, the Government recognise that full consideration ought to be given to various proposals for changes in the existing franchise law, for controlling the expenditure allowable to candidates, and for other amendments designed to secure the maximum of fairness in the conduct of elections. In the opinion of the Government the best method of securing a full examination of these problems will be by a Conference, presided over by Mr. Speaker, and if the House concurs in the proposal the Government would propose that Mr. Speaker should be invited to undertake this important task in addition to his already onerous duties.

In the first instance, however, as I have already stated, the Government desire that there should be a wide Debate on electoral reform in order to give the House a full opportunity of expressing its opinion. We propose, therefore, to set apart two days for this Debate early in the new Session.