Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 9:02 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour 9:02 pm, 19th January 2011

I have been paying great attention to the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, for many years and I have learnt many things from him. Although I cannot say that I agree with him on absolutely every issue, the noble Lord and I agree privately on more things than we disagree about.

I wanted to be brief but, because of the interventions, I have been a bit too long. I think that any moment now someone will move that the Question be now put and so I must try to draw towards a conclusion.

The Government might be a little nervous of this because they think it will affect them adversely, but I do not think it would. In fact, some of the constituencies that would be likely to gain greater representation as a result of my proposal are held by Conservatives, the Cities of London and Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea being very good examples. In any case, as we established in the valuable discussions that we have had on the Bill, size of constituency is not the crucial factor in the bias that exists within the electoral system, and therefore it is unlikely that changing size will make a big difference to the actual results in a general election.

I have tried to put this forward in a tentative spirit, although some have tried to elevate it into a proposition that requires a 100 per cent justification before it is raised in Committee. It would represent a minor but important change to the Bill. I look forward to the Minister's response and I hope that, in the spirit that Ministers have been applying to most debates more recently-if not that on the Isle of Wight-the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, will at least give a considered response. If he feels it would be fit to give it a further whirl around, he has the necessary expertise and I hope he will agree to that. I beg to move.