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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 9:15 pm, 19th October 2010

The right hon. Gentleman makes his point well and I am sure Greg Mulholland heard him.

I shall speak to amendment 38, which is in my name. With permission, Mr Bayley, I should also like to press it a Division. Other than what I said on amendments 341 and 342, arguments about the number of people on the electoral register lie behind this debate. One argument that was touched on earlier is bogus, and it should be discounted: namely, that the number of electors that it takes to elect a Member from one political party is different from the number it takes to elect a Member for another party. That is irrelevant to this debate. Turnout, the number of candidates and the distribution of electors also affect the number of people it takes to elect a Member for a political party. If people want a kind of representation that means that it takes exactly the same number of people to elect each MP, the answer is PR. I am against that and in favour of first past the post. However, that is nothing to do with the clause.

The second point at the heart of clause 8 is that constituencies should be based on an equal number of registered electors. That is a reasonable starting point, but there are two exceptions-one is relevant to this clause and the other will be debated later. If people are to represent constituencies, geographical features, boundaries and real communities should be significant considerations, as well as absolute numbers. However, how can the Committee say that absolute numbers is the overwhelmingly relevant consideration and accept that change to the system when 3.5 million people are not on the electoral register?

In amendment 38, I am seeking, in a different way from Andrew George, to address voter registration. He is trying to get the Boundary Commission to assess the difference between those who are registered and those who are not. The point of my amendment is to get the Electoral Commission, which is the more appropriate body, to try to satisfy this House and the other place that enough changes and processes have taken place to ensure that as many people as practically possible are registered. Once that has been done, but not before, the figures can be taken into account when considering boundaries.