Parliamentary Constituencies Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:02 pm on 27th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Holmes of Richmond Lord Holmes of Richmond Non-affiliated 7:02 pm, 27th July 2020

My Lords, I start by congratulating my noble friend the Minister on the clear and comprehensive manner in which he has introduced this important legislation. I wish him luck in steering his first Bill through your Lordships’ House, but given his experience of and in the House and his leadership in local government, its success will not be a matter of luck.

I welcome the Bill, which is certainly a great improvement and a step forward on its predecessor. Perhaps I may gently recommend to my noble friend the Minister the recent report of the Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, on which I was fortunate to serve under the excellent leadership of my friend the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. There may be much fertile ground for my noble friend within those pages.

Like others, I associate myself with the comments of my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham. If the Boundary Commission is to do its job in the manner in which it has been charged, it does indeed need to be insulated, so terms like “reasonably practicable” are nowhere near strong enough. Does my noble friend agree that a friendly amendment to tighten those words and put a time and date in would be an excellent improvement to the Bill? He as much as any of us knows that, in political parts, spring tends to come quite late, and often only when the leaves are truly browned off.

I want also to add my support to the protections to be granted quite correctly for Ynys Môn. Does my noble friend agree that, while no man is an island, it is certainly true that some constituencies are indeed just that?