Parliamentary Constituencies Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 2nd June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 5:06 pm, 2nd June 2020

I thank my hon. Friend for that point. As she rightly says, there are aspects of community that really come out when we are thinking of rural seats, just as they do in respect of urban and suburban seats. I know that all such arguments will be brought out to the Boundary Commissions as they undertake their work after this legislation passes. I can also reassure her that a specific point in the factors the Boundary Commissions have to use deals with particularly large constituencies, and that one remains the same. She may have it mind, although I do not think her neck of the woods gets quite to that size, but she will know the one I am referring to.

Let me return to the things the Bill changes. It will improve the timings of the public hearings that form part of that extensive consultation process I was just referring to. The hearings will be moved to a little later in the boundary review timetable so that they can targeted to areas where interest is greatest. That often becomes clear only as a review gets going. The Bill will also improve the way the Boundary Commissions have to consider local government boundaries. They are one factor the commissions may take account of when they develop their proposals. Currently, they may consider only those local boundaries that have been implemented at a local council election prior to the start of a review. The Bill lets the Boundary Commissions take into account not only the local boundaries that exist at the beginning of the review, but prospective boundaries—ones that have been formalised in legislation but not yet used in an election. That measure will help to keep constituency boundaries better aligned with local government boundaries, for example, by taking into account forthcoming amendments to council wards in London, Wales, Wiltshire and Cornwall, should the orders for those areas be made by the time of the review.