Letter: Democratic Europe

Sir: We understand that the Government is responding to the Lords' most recent amendments to the European Parliamentary Elections Bill with an offer to review the operation of the system of closed lists after the European elections in June 1999 ("Straw vilifies Tory peers", 11 November).

I would like to point out that a firm undertaking to carry through such a review has already been made by the Government as part of the propaganda drive to secure acceptance of the Bill among its own supporters. The new offer represents no change whatever, and it is difficult to see how it can be taken seriously.

If the Bill goes forward, effectively unamended, this will be a serious blow to free and open elections in Britain. For the first time, political parties will have usurped the central choice which rightly belongs to the electorate: to decide who precisely will represent the people in Parliament.

I fervently hope the Lords will continue to stand firm on this key principle.


(Nottinghamshire North and Chesterfield, Lab)

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire