9P ELECTORAL SYSTEMS COMMISSION :
those faults which will remain even if the Alternative Vote is grafted on to it, and the adoption of the Transferable Vote.
The choice of the latter alternative would involve the creation of large constituencies, returning from three up to nine or ten members, according to local circumstances.
Considerable initial confusion would have to be risked irTintroducing the change.
Moreover, an examination of the evidence given before us shows that there is not at present strong popular support of any scheme for producing proportional representation, and that the Transferable Vote is subject to certain drawbacks, of which the most notable are the decisive effect of late preferences and" the difficulty of bye-elections, which will insure a vigorous opposition to its application to the present electorate.
Reviewing the whole evidence, and duly considering the gravity of the change involved, we are unable to report that a case has been made out before us for the adoption of the Transferable Vote here and now for elections to the House of Commons.
We desire at the same time to emphasise the exact nature and limitations of this conclusion.
In other countries, or in this country at_ some future time, conditions may be found which enhance the merits of proportional representation and neutralise its defects.
Some of the most serious clangers to be apprehended from it may arise of themselves under a single-member system ; some need may become felt which can only be satisfied by proportional representation in one form or another.
When or where such situations are foundâ€”and some of them have been indicated aboveâ€”the balance of advantage, and the importance of considerations which in other circumstances weigh heavily in judgment, may be entirely altered.
Nor does our adverse view of the Transferable Vote extend beyond political elections where the question which party is to govern the country plays a predoÂ¬ minant part.
As we have already pointed out, the system shows at its best in elections where the comparative merits of candidates as individuals are at issue.
Thus there would be much to be said in its favour as a method for the constitution of an elected Second Chamber.
Again, though it is no part of our reference to consider the applicability of the Transferable Vote to non-legislative bodies, we may observe that many of the most important objections to its use for political purposes are not valid against proposals to employ it where the functions of the body to be chosen are primarily administrative.
In this connection interesting developments are taking place elsewhere, whose course deserves to be carefully watched.*
The Municipal Flections at Johannesburg have quite recently been held with marked success under the Transferable Vote, and we observe that the French Ministry propose to apply a system of proportional representation to such elections in France.
The question of introducing the Transferable Vote for similar elections in England has been recently considered by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and reference should be made to the Report of that Committee for further information.
We need only add, that should it be decided at any time to introduce proportional representation here for political elections, the change would be facilitated if experience had been gained in municipal elections alike by electors and officials.
Lastly, we may observe that we have carefully considered the question of trying an experiment with the Transferable Vote by applying it first in a few constituencies.
Such a step would no doubt be advisable as a final test before committing the whole country to so radical a change as the system involves, but the opposition to be expected in the areas selected for the trial would be too serious to be faced without a strong backing of public opinion in the country at large.
Unless the experiment were on an extensive scale, and prolonged over more than one election, not much would be learned from it which cannot be deduced from the experience of Tasmania or might not be obtained by an application of the system to some municipal elections ; and, on the other hand, an adequate trial would hardly be agreed to, except as a measure of practical precaution when the advisability of proportional representation in general, and the balance of advantage in favour of the Transferable Vote in particular, had been widely acknowledged.
Our final conclusions may be summarised as follows :â€” 138 As stated in the first paragraph of our report, political considerations enter so largely into many proposals affecting representation, such as elections on one clay,
* See Appendix 5.