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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West 9:00 pm, 19th October 2010

That is right. The amendment proposes that the estimates should be put together by the Office for National Statistics. I hope it would use a range of data sources, and if the Government plan any initiatives to enrich the data, that would be welcome. If a sudden change is made to all the boundaries with a view to changing the composition, possibly for the next general election, let us get it right. In order to do what my hon. Friend suggests, which I entirely agree with, the necessary time must be allowed.

I am a member of the Welsh Affairs Committee. We had the great joy of hearing expert witnesses from the Electoral Commission and the administrators, and from the Minister. What was fed back from the practitioners was that given the resource and the time available, it would be difficult to administrate the changes, in particular for the administrators of the election. The commission has been given an extra £1.9 million to drive ahead, although there are only 3 million people living in Wales. That is an enormous cost to railroad the provisions through. The administrators of the electoral areas thought the results would be chaotic. In terms of effective democracy, which is what we are about, as well as inherent fairness, the speed and nature of the change are wrong.

I will conclude now as I know that Members want to move on. In essence, I am arguing that a more sophisticated, accurate and fairer way of counting voters to provide the best estimate of the number of people eligible to vote is the best way to sustain credibility and confidence in our democracy in future. I urge hon. Members to support the amendment when it is put to the vote.