PR for 1999 European elections

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British voters are to be given their first taste of proportional representation, which is to be introduced for the 1999 elections to the European Parliament.

As forecast in The Independent last month, Tony Blair and senior ministers have decided that legislation will be introduced in the autumn, with the Lords being given the first bite at the Bill.

But no conclusion should be drawn about consequential support for PR in the Commons - which would be the natural hope of the Liberal Democrats. A Government source said the move would fulfil a long-standing commitment, but while it showed Mr Blair was keen on constitutional reform, there was a difference between European elections - or PR for devolved assemblies - and the elections for a national government.