Letter: Waiting for PR

Sir: I like my daughter's rule - "Never wait for any man more than seven minutes." We have been waiting 11 months to find out when the Prime Minister will keep his promise to hold a referendum on the Jenkins Commission proposals on electoral reform for Westminster.

Now he tells us there will be no more electoral reform in this Parliament and no referendum either. Does this mean the Joint Cabinet Committee of Liberal Democrats and Labour has outlived its usefulness?

There are still areas where we could cooperate with the Government on constitutional issues such as freedom of information, fair votes for local government elections and the European single currency. In fact, on these issues we would be happy to cooperate - if the Government does the right thing. The question now is whether institutionalised cooperation will increase our influence on these issues.

On electoral reform for Westminster there is a proposal on the table which, while not perfect, is better than the status quo. Is this true of the other three?

Blair knows we will support positive and constructive policies on Europe in any circumstances - after all, we supported the Conservatives on Maastricht.

PR for local government does not yet seem to be on his agenda. But if he really wants to make local democracy more relevant to the citizen, he must change the voting system.

The proposals on freedom of information are so bad that the debating point is whether it is better than no Bill at all.

The Joint Cabinet Committee may be able to contribute something on these issues, but now that Blair has ruled out PR in this Parliament there is no case for it to enjoy a long shelf life - this woman won't wait much longer.

JACKIE BALLARD MP

(LibDem, Taunton)

House of Commons

London SW1

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