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Local Government Electoral Reform

Volume 268: debated on Wednesday 20 December 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to implement local government electoral reform. [5209]

Last night, the Secretary of State said that he was open to positive suggestions on further constitutional reform. Will the Minister try to persuade him that one of the most enlightened reforms that he could undertake would be to introduce a fair voting system based on proportional representation for local government elections? That would make councils more accountable and representative and it would be an incentive for voters to vote. The reform should be attractive to the Secretary of State because, if implemented, it might just result in more Tory council seats. After all, Tory councillors are becoming an endangered species in Scotland.

When talking about a fair electoral system, the hon. Lady should talk to her colleagues in the Liberal Democrat party about a fair electoral system for their proposed tax-raising Parliament. She seems to have botched together some deal to get her party's proposals off the ground. It seems that about 56 of the 129 Members that they are proposing would be party hacks.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Conservative party has never changed constitutional rules to secure narrow benefits at elections? We are concerned about having a constitution that will stand the test of time, as has the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom. We shall have no truck with Members being selected in smoke-filled rooms instead of at the ballot box.