PR campaign gets boost from Hoon

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Reformers seized on remarks by Geoff Hoon who appeared not to rule out changing the electoral system in a speech on voting and turnout. Speaking at a seminar organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a think-tank, Mr Hoon who is in charge of electoral issues, said: "Some have suggested that reform of the electoral system is required to bring in proportional representation. I remain open minded on this particular issue." But he added that he had "yet to be convinced" of the need for "fundamental" change on the voting system. Almost 40,000 people have signed up to The Independent's Campaign for Democracy and demanded a review of the voting system.

Mr Hoon also made the case for compulsory voting to help increase the flagging levels of turnout at general elections. He warned that "serial non-voters could threaten the long-term legitimacy of democracy". "International experience points to compulsory voting being the most effective way to increase turnout," he said.

"A higher turnout is vital if we are to ensure a representative, healthy and vibrant democracy."

He suggested that people who refused to vote could be fined up to £500. "Rather like the introduction of seat belt legislation, it would only require one or two cases to be brought to encourage everyone else to participate," he said.