Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 16 May 2018.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement 9:30, 16 May 2018

I want to put on the record that the contents of the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton have yet to be discussed in Committee because of the Government’s failure to table a money resolution. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, they have had five and half months to do so and give us the opportunity to discuss the Bill.

The content of the Bill gained wide consensus across the House five and half months ago, passing its Second Reading by 229 votes to 44. I have previously raised this point: this is about the will of Parliament. A lot has happened since the 2018 boundary review, which the Bill seeks to replace. The 2018 review started before we even had the EU referendum, and the number of people on the electoral roll has increased significantly.

The current boundary review, which will come back to the House in October, uses the figures from December 2015, when there were 44.7 million people, compared with the 46.8 million people recorded this year. Those are 2 million people whose voices will not be heard in the current proposed boundary review but which could be heard if my hon. Friend’s Bill had a money resolution. We could then discuss the Bill and gain cross-party consensus, because there is huge will across the House to do so.

We want an accurate electoral roll to decide the boundaries for this House. That is incredibly important post the Brexit referendum, which means we will lose Members of the European Parliament. The idea of losing them at the same time as we lose 50 MPs, while maintaining the size of the Government payroll, is a slap in the face to democracy. It hands more power to Government and less power to the people, which is the exact opposite of the wide consensus of what Brexit was about in the first place. We want an accurate electoral roll to draw our boundaries.

We also want power to be given to Parliament. By not tabling a money resolution, the Government have shown contempt and denied us the opportunity to debate the Bill. They have not respected the, to be frank, limited powers of Back Benchers to introduce legislation. I hope the Minister will be able to offer us more today than she managed at our previous sitting.