Amendment 6

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 2:45 pm on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Defence) 2:45 pm, 8th October 2020

My Lords, I will be brief, taking full advantage of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, whom I wish to congratulate on bringing this matter to the attention of the Committee and, indeed, persevering with it to the extent that we now know that consensus has been achieved. In that respect, it would be only right and proper to thank the noble Lord, Lord True, for being constructive in these discussions. The noble Lord referred to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, who certainly deserves a mention in dispatches as having been a very fervent supporter of the principle, albeit with a different figure in mind.

The mischief that this amendment seeks to address is the fact that, under the previous legislation, the Government had what one could reasonably describe as an unfettered discretion, which has now been substantially removed. The consequence is that the onus will rest with the Government to establish whether or not the exception that is contained can be fully supported. I venture to suggest that the Government—any Government—will find it a lot more difficult to defend exceptional circumstances that would have had reasonable practicability.