Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 6th September 2010.

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Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South 8:30 pm, 6th September 2010

I support the Bill not because I think it is perfect-far from it in fact, and I will touch on its deficiencies in a moment-but because I strongly support part 2 on the equalisation of constituency electorates. We have heard much from the Opposition Benches about how it is somehow partisan of us on the Government Benches to equalise electorates across the country, but I contend that it is partisan not to equalise them, because we have a huge imbalance in our current electoral system. The Labour party won the 2005 election with 36% of the vote and it had a Commons majority of about 60 seats. In the 2010 election, the Conservative party won 37 or 38% of the vote but fell short of an overall majority. If anyone needs a clear indication of the imbalance in the current system, that provides it.

We also hear much from the Opposition Benches about problems with electoral registration; Opposition Members offer them up as an excuse not to rebalance and equalise constituency electorates. I applaud all measures to boost voter registration, but we should not allow that argument to take away from the importance of equalising electorates.

Let me give an example involving my Milton Keynes constituency. It is a new-town constituency and its electorate is fast approaching 90,000 people. However, when I compare that figure with the corresponding figures for the five new-town constituencies in Scotland I find that their electorates are at least 10,000 smaller, and in the worst case of Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East the electorate is approximately 25,000 voters fewer than mine. That cannot be right.