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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 8:00 pm, 19th October 2010

I completely and utterly disagree with the hon. Lady. Of course one ought to strive towards equality in representation, but that is simply not the British way of creating the House of Commons. Historically, we said, "Okay, the shires need to be represented", and consequentially the knights of the shires were brought into the first Parliament in the 13th century-incidentally, the only reason we know the names of any of those who first attended is that they presented their expenses chits and had them paid. Then we decided that the towns and villages needed representation, because the principle was that representation was based on communities-it was communities that were represented here. It was not just about the mathematical calculating machine system for deciding constituencies. There are countries that have used that system. The United States of America uses it for its House of Representatives. In fact, that is what led to the concept of gerrymandering-it was, I think, a Governor of Massachusetts, Mr Gerry, who was the first person to create a constituency designed to get him re-elected, and it was in the shape of a salamander.