Report (3rd Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour 5:15 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, we had a very good debate on the case for keeping the constituency of Brecon and Radnor on 24 January-my, that seems a while ago-at cols. 795-805. The case was supported then not merely from these Benches but from the Cross Benches in remarkable speeches by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, who said that it would be a "colossal, monstrous injustice" if that constituency were changed.

The case, in a nutshell, is that this is the largest constituency in England and Wales. It takes one and a half hours on poor roads from one end to the other, but at 58,000 its electorate is well short of the electoral quota. What really makes it different is that it cannot expand south, because that would take away still more voters from the valley constituencies, which are themselves short of electoral quotas. It cannot expand east because constituencies cannot cross country borders. Therefore, it has to go into sparsely populated and unrelated areas, either to the west or to Montgomeryshire, to the north. That argument was strongly put, including again by my noble friend Lady Hayter. I hope that I have the same luck on this amendment as she had on the previous one.

Only one person spoke against that proposition: the noble Lord, Lord McNally, who was not, perhaps, at his formidable best, because he went off to hospital soon after-I hope not as a result of any remarks that I made about him. He has, happily, recovered-he is smiling on the Front Bench now-so I hope that, having thought about it long and hard in his hospital bed, he will now feel able to accept the amendment.