Report (3rd Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Crossbench 4:00 pm, 9th February 2011

I should like to make it clear to the House that I speak as an individual and support what the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said: that the Cross-Benchers are never to be seen as a group. We all vote according to our individual consciences, as we see our position in this place. I live in an area that has had three changes of constituency in the past three elections, and I have not had the slightest problem with that. I also recognise the importance of all these changes being done by the next election in 2015. Consequently, I totally support the Government's approach that there should be a leeway of 5 per cent each way. However, I support the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I played no part whatever in drafting the amendment, and indeed had not read it until I came into the Chamber this afternoon. If one reads the amendment with care and listens with care to what the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Williamson of Horton, have said about it, it is perfectly obvious that it would give the Boundary Commission leeway in an exceptional, small group of cases. It is not intended to disrupt or change the standard situation, which is the proper way in which to readjust constituencies that are out of kilter.

As someone who has been a judge, I would say that it would be most extraordinary if there was a judicial review of any of these cases. If there was one, it would be very unlikely that the result of that one would encourage further judicial reviews.