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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 6:45 pm on 1st November 2010.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 6:45 pm, 1st November 2010

It is a pleasure to follow Mark Durkan, who makes a case for which I have a great deal of sympathy. I should like to express the great frustration of hon. Members representing Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that we have not had an opportunity to advance the voice of, and the case for, Cornwall in debates on a Bill that will have a significant impact on Cornwall and its future. We should really have had such an opportunity before but, because of the arcane way in which we still manage our business in the House, we are left with the clock ticking away, and with very little time to make our case. As my hon. Friend John Thurso said earlier, this is a clash between two principles. The first is that of equalisation, and no one could properly argue against that. However, we must also consider the important principle of respecting tradition, history and geography.

I draw attention to my amendments 196 and 4. One deals with the principle of discretion for the Boundary Commission to apply not just to Cornwall, but to other places, too. Sometimes people are not aware of the potential consequences that flow from their own community, their own identity and their own place. It is important to have an amendment that provides the Boundary Commission with a great deal more discretion. The other amendment deals with the historic and essential boundary of Cornwall, the integrity of which must be respected and protected.