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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour 11:45 pm, 19th January 2011

Amendment 80 is in this group so it would be appropriate for me to say a few words in relation to that now. With no disrespect to the previous three speakers, who talked about the City of London and the capital city, I am not a nationalist, as everyone here knows, but I must point out that London is only one of the capital cities in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh is the second capital city of the United Kingdom.

I will be accused of special-case pleading, but a lot of the arguments put forward in relation to the Isle of Wight, which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, dealt with in his usual careful way, apply to other areas as well. I do not have the Hansard yet, but I could quote from the eloquent arguments put forward by the noble Lords, Lord Fowler and Lord Forsyth, about the Isle of Wight and relate them to other parts of the United Kingdom. However, I want to argue a wider range in relation to the capital city of Edinburgh.

Amendment 80 would have five preserved constituencies in the city of Edinburgh council area. When I stood in West Edinburgh in 1970 and in Pentlands in 1974 we had seven constituencies in the city of Edinburgh. I never won Pentlands or West Edinburgh on those occasions and had to move down to Ayrshire ultimately to get elected. I gave a graphic description of the constituency that I used to represent at about six in the morning on Monday or Tuesday; I think it was Tuesday for normal human beings outside but Monday for parliamentarians. Then, prior to 2005 Edinburgh was reduced to having six constituencies. My noble friend Lady Liddell of Coatdyke was responsible. I do not blame her in any way, but she was the Secretary of State who had the duty and the responsibility to reduce the number to six on that occasion. Subsequently, from 2005, the number of constituencies has now been reduced to five. Yet, during all this time, the population of Edinburgh has been rising substantially while that of Glasgow has been going down.

In Edinburgh East, represented brilliantly now by Sheila Gilmore, there are 74,505 electors; in Edinburgh North and Leith, represented-brilliantly, I had better say also-by Mark Lazarowicz there are 74,762 electors; in Edinburgh South, which Ian Murray now represents, again brilliantly, there are 68,884 electors; and, in Edinburgh South West, which is represented by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, even more brilliantly-or had I better say, equally brilliantly?