Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of Police Terms and Conditions of Service (Redundancy) – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 20th October 2010.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 3:30 pm, 20th October 2010

My hon. and historical Friend is absolutely right. That adds to my argument, and to arguments that I shall hope to adduce later. As I said, there need to be some exemptions where there are overriding geographical, political or cultural issues that need to be resolved.

One of the overriding political issues is the bonding together of the Union, which historically has taken into consideration the existing political structures in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. That is why we have tabled amendments 127 and 135, which would mean that the Boundary Commission would not be able to proceed until the referendum had happened in Wales. In that way, we would know that there was a settled view about what powers the National Assembly for Wales would have.

There are other amendments in this group. In particular, Greg Mulholland has tabled amendments 341 and 342, either of which I would be happy to support; I very much hope that he will press one of them to a Division.

The hon. Gentleman made an important point in his contribution to the debate when he said that we have only just had a boundary review and we are to have another by 2013, which seems rather a fruitless exercise. He is absolutely right; it would be better if we did things on a longer time scale, and towards 2018. That point relates to his amendment 341. His amendment 342 would mean that instead of having reviews every five years, we should have them every 10 years. I say to hon. Members who are hard and fast in their view that we should have a full boundary review, every five years, on the basis of purely mathematical, arithmetical equations, that that would put every single parliamentary seat in doubt every single time. It may not be that every single one is changed every time, but a large number probably would be. The danger is that that gives rise to a conflict when an hon. Member knows the seat that they will be fighting at the next general election and they want to get in touch with the voters in that seat not as an MP but as a candidate. That is likely to lead to a considerable number of unfortunate circumstances in the way that Parliament behaves. It was difficult enough in the last general election, when the Speaker and the courts had to intervene in two cases in London where boundaries had been redrawn and MPs wished to be able to correspond not as an MP but as a candidate, and the sitting MP objected to that intervention.