Parliamentary Boundaries

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1981.

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Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek 12:00 am, 5th February 1981

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England to make its final recommendations following the current review of parliamentary boundaries.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

The Boundary Commissions are independent bodies and are not accountable to my right hon. Friend for the time they take to complete their reviews within statutory limits. I understand, however, that the English Commission is likely to have completed its current review of parliamentary constituencies by the end of 1982.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek

Is my hon. and learned Friend satisfied that this will allow sufficient time for the recommendations that are implemented to be effective for the next general election in view of the great disparity in the size of constituencies at present?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I would certainly hope so. The English Boundary Commission, which is totally independent of the Government, and rightly so, has a statutory time in which it has to complete its functions. They must be completed by April 1984.

Photo of Dr Edmund Marshall Dr Edmund Marshall , Goole

What is the hon. and learned Gentleman's best estimate of the minimum period of time that must elapse between the submission of the commission's report and the holding of any general election on proposals contained in that report?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I do not make estimates on matters which are not my responsibility.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , Isle of Ely

While the Boundary Commission may not be accountable to the Minister, will he point out that it would be advisable to inform the Member of Parliament before it informs the district council and local newspapers of its intention to change boundaries?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman's comment will be noted by the chairman of the boundary commission.

Photo of Mr Gary Waller Mr Gary Waller , Brighouse and Spenborough

Can my hon. and learned Friend confirm that when the Government receive the final recommendations of the commission they will take steps to implement those recommendations speedily and thus not follow the disgraceful precedent set by the Labour Party on the last occasion?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

There is absolutely no chance whatever of my right hon. Friend following the precedent of 1969, which was regarded as a disgraceful blot on our constitutional history. My right hon. Friend will fulfill his functions as quickly as he properly can.

Photo of Mr George Cunningham Mr George Cunningham , Islington South and Finsbury

Is it not a fact that the Government brought a Bill to the House recently for the sole purpose of increasing the Conservative figures at the next election by 15 or 20 seats?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

That point was made—and disgracefully made—in the debate on that occasion, and I fully answered it.