Parliamentary Constituencies Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:08 pm on 27th July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Gardner of Parkes Baroness Gardner of Parkes Conservative 7:08 pm, 27th July 2020

My Lords, those on the margins are the most affected by the changes. There could be new MPs’ constituencies, and perhaps new local authorities, crossing existing council boundaries —made by an order but not yet fully implemented. That was what I understood from a statement in the Minister’s speech. Residents are closer to, and more affected by, the policies and workings of their local authority than by those of a Parliament from which they often feel quite remote.

There are 650 MPs, and the Bill aims to provide the electorate with certainty and confidence on this subject, without further delay. I support that. As the noble Lord, Lord Hussain, said, all should have the right to vote. That is all very well, but a lot of people do not exercise the right. In countries like Australia, where I come from, people have the right to vote, but it is compulsory, and they are fined if they do not vote. People there cannot say, as I find that people here often do, “Oh, it’s a bit wet—or cold—tonight; I don’t think I’ll go out.” It has got to be either one thing or the other. Either it is all voluntary or, if it is obligatory, that is a different matter. Residents really will benefit from the Bill, and I strongly support it.