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Orders of the Day — European Assembly Elections Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 1977.

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Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone 12:00 am, 7th July 1977

I gladly accept the correction.

Let me deal finally with the relationship between this piece of legislation and public opinion, which is perhaps the most important aspect of the whole subject.

A number of hon. Members will support the Bill and a number will oppose it, and the debate will start in earnest when that has happened. Dangerous suggestions have been made in various parts of the House, which I fear may be repeated by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) in winding up for the Opposition. He will try to entice the Home Secretary into what I consider to be a wholly unconstitutional procedure, namely, asking the Boundary Commission to begin its work without knowing what will be in the legislation and what or might not be passed. I am glad that the Government have stoutly resisted any such suggestion and have given good reasons why that cannot be done.

I warn the Government against any weakening on that score, because it would be regarded by many as a breach of the constitution. It is a serious decline in political honesty on the part of the Opposition for the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham to make the suggestions that he has. If he is in such a hurry, he will have to learn to wait until Parliament has decided—and that process will begin tonight.