Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 10:15 pm, 19th January 2011

As far as I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, is taking U as the total population in Rule 2(b) rather than the registered electorate and dividing it by 600 minus 2, now 3. That then produces something called the electoral quota. Paragraph 2(1)(a) of the new schedule states that the electorate of any constituency shall be no less than 95 per cent of the United Kingdom electoral quota and no more than 105 per cent. I assume that we do not need as a matter of drafting to amend paragraph (2)(1)(a) because the electoral quota is simply the number of the population. Therefore, it will be assumed, I assume, that it can be 5 per cent lower than the total population or 105 per cent of it, not 95 per cent or 105 per cent of the registered electorate. The noble Lord can explain it, but I think that it is consistent. I am sure that it is clear to everybody. [Laughter.]

I am rather against that approach. [Laughter.] That is ultimately because the way that our system works is that Parliament defines who is entitled to be on the electoral register. By doing so, it is in effect defining who is entitled to participate in the process of elections. It would be wrong therefore, as a matter of principle, to seek to define constituency boundaries by reference to people, some of whom may be entitled to be on the electoral register and some of whom may not. You will therefore find, for example, that there are constituencies in particular areas-I have in mind central London constituencies; for example, the City of London as well as Kensington and Chelsea-where the population is very high and appears to be very much larger than those on the electoral register.