Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Nye Baroness Nye Labour 7:15 pm, 19th January 2011

I support the noble Lord's amendment. I told him that I would do so and I had not intended to speak in the debate, but a few points arose from his speech that I want to take up. He said that the Member of Parliament campaigned at the election to keep the Isle of Wight as a single constituency, but the same candidate must also have campaigned at the election to have a 10 per cent reduction in the number of seats. That gives a new twist to the phrase "not in my constituency".

The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, who is not in his place, said at Second Reading that the problem is that equal votes are a good idea and people support that, but people can believe two things at the same time. People want fair votes, but experience in the Isle of Wight and Cornwall shows that they might want something else as well. That is partly why we have tabled these amendments. As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, we have been trying to change the nature of this threshold to give constituencies such as the Isle of Wight more flexibility.

The noble Lord also said in his speech that there had been no consultation with the residents of the Isle of Wight, which is one of our objections to the Bill. More important, there will be no consultation when the Bill is passed because the Bill will also abolish public inquiries into Boundary Commission decisions. We would like people to have a say both at the beginning and at the end, but this Bill will abolish that. I hope that, for the reasons that he gave in his speech, the noble Lord will support some of the amendments that we have tabled because they apply in other cases. I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken-in certain respects-because if we amend the Bill so that it is fair to all constituencies, that would be better than having specific exceptions.