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Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — Committee (14th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:45 pm on 26th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 10:45 pm, 26th January 2011

My Lords, I am grateful for all the support around the House for Amendment 91. It was an amusing and vintage speech from the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. However, it is worth analysing two parts of it. First, he accepted the importance of the issue that the Bill proportionately increases the size of the Executive and decreases the number of those able to hold them to account. He said that we should not rush. No one is asking the Government to rush, because the reduction would occur precisely when the reduction in the number of MPs would occur.

Secondly, the noble Lord said that we could get round this by the PPS route. In the light of what the Government, and in particular Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron, have said, I would have thought that they would not do this because they are committed to the measure. He said that there was a "but", and we thought that there would be something bankable. My noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith asked what the Government were going to do about it. In this House, as in the other place, something is being looked for that would bring the thing forward. I have written down, "We will look at it", and, "We will address the issue and do something". It is very difficult to regard those assurances as having any reality.

As my noble friend Lord Rea said, our amendment would reduce the number of Ministers by eight. That is not many. It is hard to believe that it would affect the conduct of government-and my goodness, it would send a signal consistent with what has been said by Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron. It would be a very good thing for trust in politics if that could be done. I think that both the noble Lord, Lord Norton, and I will return to this on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 91 withdrawn.

Amendment 91AA

Moved by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

91AA: Clause 12, page 13, line 14, at end insert-

"( ) of all written representations made to the Boundary Commission by publishing them online within 24 hours of receipt"