Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 7:00 pm, 19th January 2011

I bow to the noble Lord's very great experience, not just as a former Speaker but as a parliamentarian. But, of course, we are where we are. The point that I wanted to make was that the identity between communities and Members of Parliament is very important. I am supporting my noble friend in the hope that the Government will recognise that the Isle of Wight has just as strong a case. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, said, that it should have one constituency; it could have two and still be closer to the criteria set under the Bill than either the Western Isles or Orkney and Shetland.

On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Martin, the Government, in looking at the Isle of Wight, should also think about this point about the identity between Members of Parliament and constituencies. This is not just a numbers game. If we end up making it a numbers game, we may very well find that the respect, support and influence that Parliament is able to bring to bear through its Members in their constituencies are greatly diminished at a time when we need to strengthen Parliament. That seems to me to be a very retrograde step.

On the other point that the noble Lord made, we have had a long debate about the procedure which in effect is bringing a guillotine to this House. That would, of course, bring all the disadvantages that we see in the Commons, which is why our workload has gone up. It was Robespierre who invented the guillotine and he ended up being a victim of it himself. I venture to suggest that this House may like to consider that example.