I apologise to the noble Earl, who has been here so much longer than I have.
I shall resume my thread on the debate on the Bill, as we are all anxious to proceed with it as rapidly as possible. We have just had two tentative debates on what I hope are interesting points of validity, which any Government in setting policy on these matters would have considered. It would have been so much better if we had had a consultative document before this Bill was brought forward that set out these alternatives and explained the pluses and minuses of each. It might have been unnecessary to debate these amendments this evening, and we could certainly have done so in a more informed way. So it does illustrate a defect of process.
To sum up the debate, there was an understanding that population is a relevant factor in determining the workload of MPs and therefore in all these matters, but at the same time there was no support for the proposition that I tentatively floated-that population should replace electorates as a basis for drawing constituencies. I accept that, but I shall make another tentative suggestion, which the Minister might like to think about. In Rule 5 in Clause 11, in the new rules that the Boundary Commission observes, there is a set of things that it may take into consideration, including special geographical circumstances. It might be worth considering adding to that list of things that it can take into consideration-at the moment within the 5 per cent limit-something relating to population, so that in cases where population is very large in relation to electorates it can explicitly make some sort of allowance for that in drawing up their final recommendations within the limits, which are 5 per cent each way at present. I leave that suggestion with the Committee and, on that basis, beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 66ZB withdrawn.
Moved by Lord Lipsey
66A: Clause 11, page 9, leave out lines 25 to 27 and insert- where U is the electorate of the United Kingdom minus the electorate of the constituencies mentioned in rule 6 or otherwise exempted from the equal constituencies provisions of this Act, and where X is 600 minus the number of constituencies exempted under rule 6 or otherwise under the provisions of this Act"