Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:45 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Jenkin of Roding Lord Jenkin of Roding Conservative 11:45 pm, 19th January 2011

After that eloquent speech, I can be extremely brief. I very much appreciate what the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has said on this subject. She obviously knows a great deal about it. I had Epping Forest in my constituency, and the Conservatives represented the City as the body that ran Epping Forest. I add one thing. The noble Baroness made the point that this should be a completely non-party issue. I have a long quotation, but at this hour of the night I shall keep it very short. I shall quote what Mr Herbert Morrison said at the time of the 1944 Act, when there was some suggestion that perhaps the City organisations should disappear. He said:

"the City of London occupies an extraordinary and unique place in British history and in the history of British local government".

He went on:

"it is such a special place that, if we can possibly help it, we will not destroy its Parliamentary identity".-[Hansard, Commons, 12/10/44; col. 1993-94.].

The noble Baroness has adumbrated what might happen if the City were redistributed among its neighbouring authorities. That could cause great difficulty for those who seek to represent those areas and the City in the other place. It could make for considerable complications when determining priorities and matters of that sort.

Of course, this does not affect the City's government of its own. It is a bicameral legislature. It is sometimes argued by historians that our Parliament was based originally on the bicameral legislature of the City, which is why my noble friend who moved this amendment said that the City does not owe itself to this House; we owe ourselves to the City.

I hope that noble Lords on all sides of the House will recognise that this is a strong case. As my noble friend pointed out, this is a body that is less than the size of a normal ward in London. With its tremendous historic and constitutional position, it really should not be split up but should be added as a single entity to another constituency-whether Westminster or one of the others. So be it. That is for the Boundary Commissioners. We seek to argue-I say this with some force to my noble friend-that it would be an act of constitutional outrage if the City were split up between a number of local authorities. I strongly support the amendment spoken to by my noble friend and by the noble Baroness.