Labour U-turn on Euro-MPS

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT has been forced into a humiliating climbdown over a new proportional representation voting system for elections to the European Parliament. It is to announce a review of the proposed "closed list" system, by which electors can vote for a party but not individual candidates in the regional constituencies.

The move is designed to drive a Bill, implementing the new voting system, through the House of Lords by the end of the Parliamentary session this month. Tory hereditary peers, angered by Labour plans to abolish their voting and speaking rights, have been trying to hold up the Bill in the Lords, which would cause havoc for next year's European Parliamentary elections and means that all political parties would have to begin their candidate selection proceedings again.

Jack Straw will announce his intention to "review" the closed list system after the European elections next year. The move could lead to the scrapping of the closed list system, which has been criticised as a ruse for getting loyal Blairites into office.

The move is to be supported by the Liberal Democrats, who have accused the Tories of political opportunism because they did not make an issue of closed lists when the Bill was at the committee stage.