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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

I cannot actually remember when Aneurin Bevan was in the House of Commons, but he is still my great hero. However, the hon. Gentleman knows that the situation he describes was exceptional because of the heads of the valleys situation and he knows my point is valid. Our local authorities in south Wales are based on valleys, and our constituencies are based on valleys. However, the point is that our constituencies are also based on communities. What Government in their right mind could think that the Isle of Wight could be anything other than a constituency? The rigidity with which the Government are dealing with these issues is beyond belief.

I want now to talk to amendment 14 and to raise the business of Wales in so far as it is represented in the House of Commons. I had the great privilege of being Secretary of State for Wales on two occasions. The fact that I held that office at all was a recognition by our constitution that there should be territorial Secretaries of State-for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There is machinery in the House of Commons for dealing with Welsh and Scottish matters, although I must tell the Wales Secretary, who is in the Chamber, that the refusal to hold a Welsh Grand Committee on this issue is a disgrace. When I was Wales Secretary, I held 22 Welsh Grand Committees-we debated anything that the people of Wales wanted their public representatives to debate, whether they were Conservative, Liberal, Plaid Cymru or Labour.