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Lib Dems may be offered PR as part of power-sharing deal

Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor // Published January 21, 2008 in The Independent
Gordon Brown will extend an olive branch to the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg this week by setting out options for replacing the first-past-the-post voting with a fairer system for Westminster elections.

The publication of a government paper on proportional representation by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, is seen by senior cabinet ministers as a move to prepare Labour for power-sharing with the Liberal Democrats if there is a hung parliament after the next election.

Mr Straw will not set out any hard proposals, but it is known he favours the additional vote system, which he introduced for elections to the European Parliament when he was Home Secretary. "Jack would support AV, if there is a hung Parliament," said a senior minister. "It could be discussed after the next election."

The Jenkins Commission proposed a new AV "top-up" system in January 1999, but it was never acted upon by Tony Blair. Under the plan by the late Lord Jenkins, the former leader of the SDP, 80 to 85 per cent of MPs would have remained directly elected on a constituency basis but the Commons would have been "topped up" with 100 to 120 MPs chosen from regional party lists, proportionately reflecting the votes cast in the general election.