16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 33


(To THE EDITOR OF TRH "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—The letters on abstention from voting and on the Tasmanian electoral system, both of which appeared in your issue of the 9th- inst., have more than a casual connexion. Abstention from voting arises from the limited choice of candidates which the English method of voting offers to an elector, whilst the Tasmanian proportional system, with its enlarged constituencies and its greater variety of candidatures, affords that wider choice which modern political conditions demand. In the Report presented last March to the French Chamber of Deputies by the Commission du Suffrage Universel, the adoption of proportional representation was recommended partly on the grounds that it would effect a considerable reduction in the enormous number of abstentions from the poll. Deliberate abstention from voting, if practised by a considerable number of intelligent citizens, must, whether in England, France, or the United States, be a source of weakness, and even of danger, to the State. It is in itself a sufficient proof of the urgent necessity of a rational electoral system. Mr. R. M. Johnston, the Government Statistician of Tasmania, bears testimony to the admirable working of the Hare-Clark system in that Colony, and as universal suffrage obtains in Tasmania there could be no more convincing test of its practicability. That system is embodied in Lord Courtney's Municipal Representation Bill, and, if the House of Commons is to maintain its claim to be the representative expression of national opinion, this electoral method should without delay be introduced into our Parliamentary elections. I shall be glad to forward to any applicant pamphlets explanatory of the system referred to by Mr. R. M. Johnston.—I am, Sir, &c., JOHN H. HuMPHREY8, Hon. Secretary.

The Proportional Representation Society, 107 Algernon Road, Lewisham., S.E.