Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 6th September 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice 4:39 pm, 6th September 2010

The parliamentary answers I gave were that the costs, on a variety of assumptions, would be somewhere between £80 million and £100 million. That was not plucked from the air and of course, if I had stayed in office, as I wish I had, we would have sought to refine the costs.

Part 2 of the Bill is one of the most partisan proposals we have seen in recent years. It proposes arbitrarily to cut the number of Members to 600, to redraw parliamentary boundaries according to inflexible new arithmetical rules based on an electoral register from which millions of eligible voters are missing and, extraordinarily, as we have heard, under clause 10 public inquiries by the Boundary Commission into the Government's preliminary proposals are explicitly to be prohibited.

If enacted, those proposals would represent the very antithesis of the high ideals that the Deputy Prime Minister initially set out for his political reforms. They have nothing whatever to do with those high ideals. Instead, they represent the worst kind of political skulduggery for narrow party advantage. There is no need for Members on the Government Benches to take that from me. All they need to do is to look at the ConservativeHome website and the detailed statement put there today by Mr Field-to coincide with this debate, I assume. He says that

"the current proposals for AV and the reduction in number of parliamentary constituencies are being promoted by Party managers as an expedient way to prevent our principal political opponents from recapturing office."

That is the truth and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for saying it.