Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 12:15 am on 19th January 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan Labour 12:15 am, 19th January 2011

I am grateful to my noble friend for allowing me to intervene but he very quickly passed over this fact: I do not live in Edinburgh, but live in Leith. I am not a Leith nationalist. Indeed, it could be argued that I live in the village of Newhaven, which was never the subject of a plebiscite, as Leith was in the 1920s-a very controversial plebiscite that the people of Leith have always disputed.

I draw it to my noble friend's attention, and I do not wish in any way to diminish the strength of his case, that it is fair to say that adjacent to Edinburgh and slightly to the east is the town of Musselburgh. As I am sure he is aware, although it has enjoyed a presence in both the Edinburgh East and East Lothian constituencies, the proud boast-in fact, the chant-of the Musselburghers was that Musselburgh was a borough when Edinburgh was only a town. Therefore, we have to be a wee bit careful here when we start claiming historical precedents, first, in respect of Edinburgh and Leith, where you have to take account of the fact that the Leithers are a significant group within the city; and secondly, if we are to extend the primacy of representation and the boundaries of constituencies, and ignore the claims of the good burghers of Musselburgh, we are getting into rather dangerous waters.

I know that my noble friend spends a lot of time swimming in those waters and that it has always been the hallmark of his political contributions. However, at this stage of the day-or, perhaps, the night-we have to be a wee bit sensitive to some of those feelings, particularly at this time given the fortunes of the football club which resides in Leith. At the moment, we are suffering. We do not need more pain because of his reluctance to give us our proper place in the panoply of Edinburgh constituencies.