MPs reject bill to change Britain's voting system to proportional representation

Green MP Caroline Lucas proposed the law to make elections fairer

Jon Stone
Wednesday 20 July 2016 16:49 BST
Workers counting ballots on election night
Workers counting ballots on election night

MPs have rejected a bill that would have changed Britain’s voting system to a form of proportional representation.

Green MP Caroline Lucas proposed the Electoral Reform Bill as a private members’ bill.

It would have amended the Representation of the People act to ensure that the House of Commons was elected using the Additional Member System – a proportional voting system.

That system, currently used in Scotland, Wales, and London, would ensure that the seats in parliament broadly reflected the votes cast.

Currently, the House of Commons is elected using First Past the Post – producing overall results wildy out of line with the share of the vote cast.

FPTP particularly penalises smaller parties; at the 2015 election a combined vote of almost 5 million secured just one seat each for the Green Party and UKIP.

The Bill received cross party support but was ultimately voted down by 81 votes to 74.

“The referendum made clear that people in Britain want to take back control of politics, after years of alienation,” Ms Lucas said ahead of the law’s presentation to MPs.

“This bill would crack open our broken electoral system and ensure the people views are properly represented in Parliament.

“By swapping to a proportional system people would be able to take power into their own hands and, like in the referendum, we’d have elections where every vote really counts.

“The movement for a fairer voting system is stronger than ever – with support from across the Labour Party, UKIP, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Greens and people across the country.”

Wes Streeting, one of a number of Labour MPs who backed the bill, said after its defeat: “I believe our electoral system is broken and young people should be given vote at 16, so couldn't abstain on this Bill as requested.”

Other Labour MPs to back the bill included Jonathan Reynolds and Stella Creasy. The Liberal Democrats and Ukip have also long supported proportional representation.

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell earlier this year called for Labour to adopt proportional representation as a policy; there has so far been no official change, however.

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