Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 19th January 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay Liberal Democrat 6:45 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, I am proud to put my name to this amendment, which has been moved by my noble friend and neighbour in Seaview. The case for keeping the Isle of Wight as a single constituency is overwhelming. I can confirm that it is supported by all three political parties on the island and, indeed, by every single person I have spoken to there. Only last Friday I spoke at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats. I explained to them the amendments due to be debated this week, but I did not know that we would have to stay up all night to get to them. Those at the meeting reaffirmed their support for the changes and asked me to pass on to my colleagues on these Benches how strongly they felt.

My noble friend Lord Fowler ran briefly through the numbers, as I did at Second Reading. The important point is that the Isle of Wight as a single constituency, which is how I imagine it would come out, is closer to the quota than either of the Scottish island constituencies. It will be 1.45 of the quota, whereas Orkney and Shetland will be 0.44 and the Western Isles only 0.29, which is barely a quarter. I support the exceptions made for the Scottish seats, but there is clearly an even stronger argument for making an exception for the Isle of Wight.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with my noble friend Lord Fowler. I hope that the Minister will listen to our concerns and give us some hope of substantial movement in the later stages of the Bill. If he does not, let me give him a word of warning. Anyone who has seen my noble friend Lord Fowler, resplendent in his beach shorts directing operations in village sports which take place in front of our cottage in Seagrove Bay, will know that you cross him at your peril. On the beach, his word is law. When we make law in this House, we cannot ignore a real people's campaign like this. It unites the Wight, and it is as determined as I am to keep it whole.