Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

My hon. Friend, who is on the Committee, makes a very valuable point. It was made very clear to the Committee, even in the short time that was allowed it to produce its report, that it would be ludicrous to get rid of public inquiries at this time, when so many changes would be coming up.

The complete redrawing of virtually every seat in the land will mean not just reselections but new selections for candidates around the country. More than one Conservative MP has already told me that the Conservative Whips have made it absolutely clear to them that if they do not toe the line, the party leadership will make it impossible for them to be selected under the new boundaries. What price accountability then? What price new politics, eh?

That is why our amendment 9 would provide that the vast majority of constituencies would indeed fall within the 5% rule, but that the boundary commissions should be allowed a wider degree of latitude where they believe there to be an overriding concern, up to a fixed limit of 10%. That 10% is actually the difference between the constituency of the Parliamentary Secretary and that of the Deputy Leader of the House.

Our amendment 13 would make explicit provision for a whole number of seats for Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, for Anglesey and for the Isle of Wight. Amendment 11 would determine that wards could not be split between constituencies, and amendment 12 would mean that factors such as local boundaries could be considered without subordination to the 5% rule, but not going further than the 10% rule.

This country is not a Rubik's cube devised by a mathematician, it is a complex jumble of communities. Some live in inconvenient numbers in inconvenient places that cannot be readily and symmetrically delineated in equal numbers. I am not defending the right of the Rhondda or anywhere else to its own seat in perpetuity. We need greater parity, and that will mean the amalgamation of seats in many areas, but let us not create so crude a system that 383 voters have to be found for the Forest of Dean or 59 expelled from Warrington. Let us not create such a centralised system that the idiosyncrasies of the towns, villages, islands and cities of this land cannot find their voice in this House.