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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 8:15 pm, 19th October 2010

I think that I am correct in saying that that system was set up by the previous Conservative Government, and no, I am not defending the status quo. I am not defending it in relation to the overall structure of the system that we ought to have, nor am I defending it in relation to the precise allocation of seats, and so on. As I have said several times in this debate, I would prefer to move towards closer equalisation. However, I want the boundary commissions to bear in mind other factors, which should include the political realities of the Union, along with ward and other political boundaries. Boundary commissions should also be able to bear in mind geographical features, such as rivers, islands and, in my case, valleys, as well as physical access, because it is pretty difficult to tie two places together that have no access between them.

The timetable for the boundary review is not driven by practical concerns about what would be suitable, but by crude and, I believe, partisan calculations that are the antithesis of the supposedly high constitutional principles that the Deputy Prime Minister invoked in his first speech in office. How quickly those noble ideals seem to have been cast aside. Back then he promised the

"biggest shake up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes."