The Background to the Direct Elections
The story of British involvement in Direct Elections to the European Parliament predated the Referendum (see p. 21) by over a year. However, as the permanence of Britain’s EEC membership was in doubt until after June 1975, the achievements reached before then were effectively shelved. Thus Britain’s early influence was one which continued a long tradition of delay over this issue, dating back to the first Draft Convention of 1960. Over the actual passing of the Direct Elections Act, Britain’s record was equally dilatory. In terms of the time taken between the passing of the September 1976 Act and the completion of ratification in member states, Britain took the longest (with 17 months) despite the fact that the original enabling legislation had been included in the Queen’s speech of November 1976.1 Britain’s legislation was also unique in that the majority in the House of Commons was the smallest of any lower House in Europe. It is possible to provide a number of interpretations of the fact that Britain’s enthusiasm did not match that of her partners.
KeywordsElectoral System Labour Party Major Party National Sovereignty Select Committee
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