Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 9 May 2018.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement 9:30, 9 May 2018

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton for his remarks about his Bill. We all recognise that the review is much needed. It presents an opportunity for cross-party agreement on new boundaries.

I share my hon. Friend’s disappointment that a money resolution has not been forthcoming from the Government, because in December this House sent a strong message that we wanted the Bill to be considered in Committee. It passed its Second Reading by 229 votes to 44. I am sure that the Government would not want there to be a perception that not providing for a money resolution might be an attempt to sabotage a private Member’s Bill and, after all, the will of the House. They would not want it to be presented as an attempt to seek political advantage.

It is widely accepted that the boundary review in its current form would be a disaster for our democracy for various reasons, the most important of which would be the cutting of the number of MPs without a reduction in the number of Ministers. That would only increase the power of the Executive and make it more difficult for Back Benchers such as my hon. Friend to challenge the Government. However, as we have seen, there is no money resolution, and that sends a dangerous message. It concerns the respect that should be accorded to Back Benchers who have had success in the private Member’s Bill ballot, and their ability to bring forward measures for us to consider.

Constitutional changes should be dealt with fairly, and everyone should have a voice. Sadly, that is not happening this morning. I urge the Government to see to the matter of a money resolution at the earliest opportunity, so that the Committee can get on with the vital work that we intend to do.