Parliamentary Constituencies Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:44 pm on 27th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 5:44 pm, 27th July 2020

My Lords, when it comes to being in this House in 2011, when reforming electoral boundaries came up, a cold shiver runs down your spine. It was one of the messier periods I have seen in my 30-plus years here, and it is something we should try to get away from. For an analysis of it, I would take my noble friend Lord Oates’ description of what happened. You can stick bits around the outside of it, but I think he caught the spirit of it.

When we look at the Bill itself, the biggest hole is the automatic registration of voters. Until we get that, we have the problem of how many registered voters there should be. That is one of the major problems if you are going for this form of democratic representation; it is quite clearly a hole. There are lots of things we can do to improve this, but it is certainly a major hole.

When it comes to the other comments about what a constituency should look like, we all know that the constituency we happen to have an interest in should stay still. If we take it that that will be the default position of everybody else, the percentage variation will become important, as will what its variables are. Are they county lines or rivers? The Tamar has been mentioned.

If we are to go through this, can we have a better understanding of where the variations, be they of 5% or 10%, kick in? A better understanding of this—at least with local government lines we know what we are dealing with—will mean that we actually know what the arguments are about.

This has generally been a messy process that has left scars on everybody involved in it. Eight-year reviews are good; 10-year ones would be better. I look forward to what is coming in the Bill with a sort of masochistic pleasure running down me.