MPs reject Caroline Lucas' proportional representation bill

Posted On: 
20th July 2016

MPs have voted down the latest attempt to introduce a proportional election system. 

Caroline Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
Credit: 
PA Images

Green MP Caroline Lucas brought forward a Ten Minute Rule motion this afternoon calling for an unspecified form of proportional representation.

Ms Lucas told the Commons voters first-past-the-post was leaving voters “disillusioned, disaffected and disengaged”.

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Her bill, which also called for the voting age to be lowered to 16, was rejected by 81 votes to 74, meaning it will not receive a first reading.

Conservative former minister John Penrose spoke against the motion, arguing the question of electoral reform should be left alone for a “long, long time” in light of the overwhelming rejection of AV in the 2011 referendum.

But Ms Lucas said the 2011 vote was “irrelevant”, since proportional representation is a completely different system.

She claimed first-past-the-post was causing “pervasive damage” to democracy in the UK.

“Our electoral system is broken and we urgently need to address some of the reasons why,” she said.  

“As a country we pride ourselves on our strong commitment to democracy yet the vast majority of votes up and down the land simply do not count. Power is held by a small minority and the voting system upholds the status quo.

“Now, we may be on the path to leaving the EU but all those who were promised they would be given back control simply will not have it without meaningful electoral reform.”

Strong constituency majorities had left some MPs “so relaxed as to be almost horizontal”, the Brighton Pavilion MP argued.

“This complacency in MPs is matched by disillusionment in voters.”

Mr Penrose, who was a minister in the Cabinet Office until last week’s reshuffle, dismissed Ms Lucas’ arguments.

“I fear this bill may harm our democracy rather than help it,” he said, warning that those who had opposed AV would take a “very dim view indeed” of renewed attempts to change the voting system.

“It is simply not possible to argue that we should ignore the AV referendum result just because it didn’t propose precisely their proposed flavour of new voting system,” he added.