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Clause 11 — number and distribution of seats

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill (Programme) (No. 4) – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 1st November 2010.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 5:45 pm, 1st November 2010

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The wards in some metropolitan areas comprise 15,000 or 20,000 voters. Consequently, if the Government push ahead with their proposed 5% leniency either way rather than the 10% that we are advocating, they will have to split wards. Contrary to what the Deputy Leader of the House said last week, and what the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Mr Harper has said, there is not a single ward in England that is split between constituencies-not one. [ Interruption. ] The latter is chuntering very quietly, but now he is looking at his phone, so I presume he has given up on that point. He can pipe down.

The end result is that it will become impossible for wards to be used as building blocks, as they currently are without exception in England despite the fact that it is not a requirement of the rules. Voters will have to become psephological experts to know who represents them at each level of government-their councillor, their Member of Parliament and their representatives at other tiers in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Historical communities and towns will be split for negligible benefit, and because of the knock-on effects there will have to be a radical redrawing of virtually every seat in the land.