U.K. Looks Set to Delay Changes, etc. (FWD)

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Sun Oct 25 12:29:17 PST 1998

U.K. Looks Set to Delay Changes in Parliamentary Voting System

London, Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. politicians will be handed a report this
week calling for changes to the country's voting system, but the indications
are that the government is in no hurry to implement them.   

The report is the result of a 10-month study ordered by Prime Minister Tony
Blair under former minority opposition Liberal Democrat leader Lord Roy
Jenkins and reports say it will call for the present winner-takes-all system
to be replaced by a partly proportional representation one, which Jenkins has
long advocated.   

A pledge to hold a referendum on the issue was contained in the ruling Labour
party's election pledge for the May 1997 general election which brought it to
power with a huge 179-seat overall majority in the 659-seat House of Commons. 

Proponents of change assumed the pledge was for a referendum in the current
parliament but last week leader of the House of Commons Margaret Beckett told
legislators that it wouldn't necessarily be held before the next general
election which could be as late as the summer of 2002.   

At Labour's annual conference last month Blair said he was ``not persuaded''
of the case for change and in the past he's said he shares worries about a
system which gives too much power to minority parties and which makes the
formation of a strong government more difficult, the so-called ``tail wagging
the dog'' argument.   

Members of Blair's Cabinet are publicly divided on the issue, and in the past
Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
and Home Secretary Jack Straw have all said they want to keep the present one-
constituency, one-member system for elections to the Westminster parliament.
Against them are Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Northern Ireland Secretary
Mo Mowlam. The main opposition Conservative party is united against any

Part-proportional systems are already in place for elections to the European
parliament and to the new assemblies planned for Scotland, Wales and Northern

The Jenkins report will be published Thursday this week.  

06:20:25 10/25/1998

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