Report (3rd Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Kinnock Lord Kinnock Labour 6:30 pm, 9th February 2011

Contrary to the fears expressed by some noble Lords in our previous debate, the reduction by 25 per cent of the number of Welsh Members of Parliament would not immediately lead to further feelings favouring secession. The consequence would in some ways be even more serious. By cutting the number of Welsh Members of Parliament by 25 per cent, which is hugely out of proportion with anything else that is happening in any other part of the United Kingdom, the Bill, unless the amendment is accepted, will foster the feeling among the people of Wales that they are being treated as if they are second rate. The consequent response is one of alienation-the feeling of being downgraded, of being marginalised and of being dispensable.

When those feelings are nourished, sometimes by mischievous politics but also by economic and social circumstances, they develop a life of their own. I do not seek to be one of those who foster those feelings-on the contrary; I want an optimistic, forward-looking Wales, which is what I have worked for all my life-but when a central Government say that, of all the parts of the United Kingdom, one part shall lose 25 per cent of its representation in Westminster while another will lose 5 per cent and others lose 16 per cent and 17 per cent, the message that is received in Wales is entirely negative.

A very patriotic and insightful Scottish member of the Government will comprehend the implications that will reverberate over years and throughout innumerable communities of the effect on Welsh attitudes of introducing legislation in this form. Even if we do not succeed with this amendment, I beg the Government further to reflect and listen to the words of Welsh representatives and those with honourable records in Wales from their own Benches, who will convey in clear terms the risks that are being taken with the political psychology and the patriotic feelings of the people of Wales by their being treated so arbitrarily, so disproportionately and so outrageously.