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Scottish Parliament

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6th November 2001.

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Photo of Mrs Helen Liddell Mrs Helen Liddell Secretary of State, Scottish Office, The Secretary of State for Scotland 2:30 pm, 6th November 2001

I welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities. It is a very long time since we heard a Scottish voice from the Opposition Dispatch Box at Scottish questions. [Interruption.] I apologise to Mrs. Laing, who has been moved on to other matters. However, it is rare for a shadow Secretary of State for Scotland to have a Scottish accent.

I am sure that Mrs. Lait will bring her usual verve and vigour to the post. She is better qualified to speak than most on the Opposition Benches, because she knows what it feels like to be rejected by the Scottish electorate. Indeed, I voted against her in 1984.

The hon. Lady's substantive point is about the number of Westminster MPs. The boundary commission is considering the matter and will report in due course. There is no reason to postpone its report or to seek to alter the commission's responsibilities. She should know that there have been extensive discussions over the past few months on those matters, so it is not surprising that the press are speculating about them.