BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 September, 1998, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Cook warms to vote reform
Robin Cook
Robin Cook: Referendum should be held during this Parliament
Robin Cook has become the most senior minister to back reform of the voting system as opposition in the Cabinet stiffens towards change.

The Foreign Secretary, who is addressing a Labour fringe meeting calling for a new system to elect MPs to Westminster, said the Jenkins Commision's report - due in October - should be given "a very fair hearing".

Proportional representation is "an idea whose time has come", said Mr Cook.

He told BBC Radio 2's Jimmy Young programme: "We shouldn't do anything this week to slam the door on it before the report has even gone to the printers.

"We are no longer in the business of the style of government which was followed in the 1980s in which you got elected to power then you ran your programme through Parliament with your majority, regardless of what anybody thought."

Deals warning

But Labour supporters remain divided on the issue.

Earlier on Monday opponents warned that adoption of PR would mean the Liberal Democrats were permanent powerbrokers as parties negotiated deals with each other to form coalition governments.

There is also dispute over when the government will honour its manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the voting system.

On the one hand Mr Cook said: "We did make a commitment before the election that we would put the issue to the people.

"That referendum should be between now and the next election."

Jack Cunningham
Jack Cunningham: Referendum could be held after the next election
But Minister for the Cabinet Office Jack Cunningham told BBC Two's Conference Talk that Labour had not promised to hold it immediately.

He said: "The manifesto commitment is to hold a referendum, but it does not say that has to be in the first Parliament of a Labour Government."

But he added: "On the other hand it doesn't say it can't be. We had better wait and see what the Jenkins Commission recommends."

Speaking on PR early on Monday Mr Blair said the subject was not at the top of his agenda. But he said no decisions would be taken without a proper debate within the party.

As for the Jenkins Commission, he said he would "proceed with care" on its findings.

See also:

28 Sep 98 | UK Politics
29 Sep 98 | UK Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes