Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:30 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 10:30 pm, 19th January 2011

I agree-not from experience but from what I have been told-that whether or not you are a registered elector does not make any difference to how a Member of Parliament will treat you.

I also agree that, if a constituency has a very large population, that should be reflected in what happens. That is why-although this is a probing amendment and I am speaking tentatively, I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, says-the most attractive way of dealing with the issue, in my view, is through the amendment that might be moved by my noble friend Lord Boateng if he is here. Amendment 67A in his name would provide:

"No constituency shall have a total population which is more than 130% of the electoral quota".

Just as it is accepted that the limit cannot be increased for a constituency with a large geographical area, there should be a similar provision for constituencies with a large population. I have a note to say that my noble friend Lord Boateng is not here, but it is legitimate to refer to his amendment as one of the possible routes that the Government could go down.

The Opposition's position is that they do not favour the approach of my noble friend Lord Lipsey, although we think that it is a sensible probing amendment. We are attracted by the idea that my noble friend Lord Boateng has put forward, and I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, has to say about that.

The amendment of my noble friend Lord Grocott concerns a different issue. It seeks to provide that, in relation to the plus or minus 5 per cent, regard should be had to the fact that an area may be having rapid increases in population. As we understand it, such matters can be taken into account under the current arrangements, but it does not look as though such matters could so easily be taken into account under the new arrangements. When boundary commissioners are considering what the boundaries should be, it would be sensible for them to take that into account.

In all those circumstances, the Committee can see what we favour in this. We will be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, has got to say.