Lib Dem Conference: Scots leader calls wants PR for local council elections

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The Independent Online
One of the first Bills put to the new Scottish Parliament should introduce proportional representation for council elections, Jim Wallace, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, declared yesterday. He said there was agreement between the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party to introduce such a Bill and he challenged Labour to give its backing as well.

Addressing the Liberal Democrat conference, he acknowledged that a Scottish Parliament set up under a voting system based on proportional representation might result in coalition government for Scotland. But he stressed: "The task of Scottish Liberal Democrats is to prepare a distinctive Liberal Democrat platform and to campaign for the election of as many Scottish Liberal Democrat members as possible."

Mr Wallace said 18 years of Tory government had "emasculated" local government. He added: "PR for council elections will be a powerful antidote to the seediness too often associated with Labour-run councils in west Central Scotland, the arrogant exercise of unchallenged power by those who all too often take the electorate for granted." Referring to the decision by the people of his own constituency of Orkney to oppose tax- varying powers for the Scottish parliament, Mr Wallace said it would serve as a "reminder to Scots parliamentarians that the Parliament must be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of Scotland's so-called peripheral areas".