Proportional representation

Parliament needs to be more representative of communities across Britain in order to reflect different views and concerns. I believe that we must start by making it easier for people to register to vote and to engage more regularly in politics and local decisions.

There are concerns about the current First Past the Post System (FPTP), which is used to elect MPs, and that this has been heightened by the results of the 2015 General Election. Indeed, over 138,000 people have signed a petition by the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy on this issue.

There are, of course, strengths and weaknesses to all voting systems. FPTP does have a history of generally returning stable, single-party governments and of retaining the constituency link, both of which I think are important benefits to our electoral system. However, there is a case to look in detail at our electoral system and that forms of proportional representation are already used in the devolved administrations across the UK, as well as in many local authority elections.

While the 2011 referendum on the introduction of the Alternative Vote was defeated by a margin of more than two to one, electoral reform should not be off the agenda if there is a public support for it.

I welcome that the Leader of the Opposition has announced that electoral reform will be considered by the Labour Party’s Constitutional Convention. More widely, I believe it is vital that our politics connects and engages with the public and I am open to proposals that can help achieve this. The Representation of the People (Proportional Representation) Bill was due to be presented to Parliament as a Ten Minute Rule Motion on December 2 2015. This did not take place due to the all-day debate on ISIL/Daesh in Syria, but please be assured I will follow this issue closely should it return to the House.