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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 6:00 pm on 1st November 2010.

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Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Labour, Torfaen 6:00 pm, 1st November 2010

It is an enormous privilege to follow Mr Kennedy. I have always had great admiration for him, as he knows, but the points that he has made about the Government's intransigent and hard-line views are extremely refreshing and, if I might say so, devastating. He rightly goes to the heart of our democracy. At the end of the day, it is the relationship between the Member of Parliament and his or her constituents that, in many ways, identifies British parliamentary democracy. The drift towards an American-style district, which is purely based on numbers and not on communities themselves, is an attack on the very basis of our democracy in the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly points, as we can in Wales, to the preposterous anomalies that will result from the Government's policy if it is allowed to continue. There will be enormous constituencies in Wales, just as there will be in Scotland. One constituency might even stretch from the south Wales valleys to Wrexham. It would perhaps not take five hours to drive from one end to the other, but it would certainly take three hours-[Hon. Members: "Five."] It depends how fast one drives, I suppose. I take my hon. Friends' point, and they make it very properly-it is a long way from one part of Wales to the other.

I have had the privilege of representing a south Wales valley for 23 and a half years in this place, and the valleys of Wales are very distinct. Our communities run north and south, not east and west. Dismembering those valleys or including them with others will make complete nonsense of the community basis of our constituencies, whether in Wales and Scotland, or, indeed, in Cardiff, which Jonathan Evans will undoubtedly now talk about.