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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 7:00 pm on 1st November 2010.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 7:00 pm, 1st November 2010

I am grateful for that intervention, as I entirely support what the hon. Gentleman said. Indeed, I have appended my name to amendment 183, which brings Cornwall and the Isle of Wight together. It recognises that there are already parts of the country whose geographic boundaries need to be respected. The primary principle underlying amendment 196, to which I think the hon. Gentleman alludes, is that of giving the Boundary Commission some discretion. Although amendment 183 acknowledges that there are five other parts of the country whose boundaries should be respected, we do not really know how many such areas there are. Other places elsewhere in the country might be relevant when the Boundary Commission is undertaking its work, and hon. Members, completely unaware of the situation, might find that a line has been drawn slap, bang through the middle of their constituency-and at that point, they will cry foul and ask how it happened.

When people wake up to the full reality of the way the boundaries are to be divided, they will understand that it will result in the effective pasteurisation of parliamentary constituencies. They will be homogenised and we will see the denigration of place, the denigration of identity and the promotion of placelessness and bland uniformity. The Boundary Commission should be given the discretion to recognise identity, culture, tradition, history, geography and so forth, so that places with strong identities, historic communities, historic counties and, indeed, historic boroughs do not find themselves divided up for the satisfaction of the Government's need for so-called statistical equalisation.