Letter: In the party lists

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Government argues that peers have no democratic mandate to block the European Parliamentary Elections Bill which would establish a closed list electoral system. It can also be argued that the Government has no mandate to introduce it.

There was no manifesto commitment by the Labour Party to change the voting system for election to the European Parliament. There was only a passing reference in their manifesto to support for a proportional system of voting. There is no mention of any party list system, closed or otherwise.

For voters to have known about Labour's commitment to closed lists, they would have had to read the written results of a pact struck during the summer of 1996 by a Lib-Lab committee chaired by Robin Cook and Robert MacLennan. The committee also had no democratic mandate. It was made up of two or three constitutional "experts" and a handful of MPs and peers - all appointed to the committee by party bosses.

In its report the committee binds both Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties to support of a list system. Paradoxically, this same unelected committee concluded that "there is too much power centralised in the hands of too few people, and too little freedom for local communities to decide their own priorities."

JONATHAN BARTLEY

Movement for Christian Democracy

London E16

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