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How things change Nov 05

Searching through a 1942 edition of the Manchester Guardian (now theguardian), I came across this letter dated October 2nd of that year. It’s from a J. L. Edwards of Whitefield.

It is to be hoped that members of the House of Commons will avail themselves to the full of the opportunity offered by the Home Secretary when he moved the second reading of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill. He then repeated the pledge already given by the Government that before a general election could be held facilities would be given for the discussion of the electoral system, so that there might be proper consideration of suggested reforms.

That our electoral system is far from perfect is acknowledged by members of all parties. It may be argued that the question of structure of the post-war Parliament is at present only of academic interest, but many will fear lest, by shelving the matter, we find ourselves unprepared for the serious problems which will arise at the end of the war. Consideration of the working of our electoral system is surely a matter of the first importance.

The War Cabinet’s plan for India, which was presented to the leaders of Indian opinion by Sir Stafford Cripps in March of this year, provided for the election of the Constitution-making body by the system of Proportional Representation. This recognition by the Government of the practicality of Proportional Representation raises the question whether this method should be applied in the election of the House of Commons, and makes all the more important an early consideration by Parliament of the defects of our own electoral system. The most suitable machinery for examining the problem would appear to be a Speaker’s Conference, on the lines of the one appointed during the last war.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyone know if the pledge for “discussion of the electoral system” was fulfilled?

One Response

  1. 1

    I don’t know about 1942, but IIRC, a Bill for some form of PR at general elections was introduced by the second Labour government in 1931 and passed through the Commons. It was in the Lords when Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Govt., and was then abandoned.