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 Rowe-Beddoe Lord Rowe-Beddoe Crossbench 6:30 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock, who touched on some of the points that I made in Committee. I fully support the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and that of the noble Lord, Lord Touhig.

We have heard so much in these past hours and days about fairness and the equivalency of vote, but we are dealing with one of the most unfair pieces of legislation, as far as Wales is concerned, that I could possibly conceive. The maths do not add up-we know that. There would be a reduction of 25 per cent in the number of Welsh MPs if you wanted to do it one way and one of 20 per cent if you wanted to do it another.

I was told in a meeting the other day that Wales has been "grossly overrepresented". That might have been so. It might have been so with good reason and good cause. It might have been so since David Lloyd George's day, since Winston Churchill's Speaker's Conference and, more latterly, since 1986, when Parliament stated that that nation should have no fewer than 35 parliamentary seats.

Where is the fairness in this proposed cut? Where can it be seen to be fair? As the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock, said, the people of Wales will look at these most ferocious cuts and not understand them. The people of Wales will feel, despite everything else, that they have been expressly targeted and disadvantaged, and who will explain it to them? If is to be the Government, might I ask with what credibility they will do so? I remind them that, with the greatest will in the world, the voice of the Government is not a great voice in Wales.

I therefore ask the Minister to consider very seriously what we are talking about. I mentioned in Committee the union, which I firmly believe will be threatened. I humbly ask the Government to look again at the amendment proposing 35 seats. If we were to have the result of the referendum in our hands, we might think a little differently. However, we do not. It would in any case take time to implement. Embedded in the amendments also is a process that would take a little longer to implement. I exhort the Government to look at the matter again.