Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 20th June 2018.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 9:30 am, 20th June 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes the perfectly fair point that bringing forward the Orders in Council, and scheduling the debate and the vote on those, are obviously matters for business managers—both Government and Opposition business managers, working in conjunction and having conversations with each other. That is entirely true.

However, I think I am right—I may be wrong, but I think I am right—in saying that there is a legislative weight on Ministers, in the sense that the boundary commissions have to report between the beginning of September and the beginning of October. I think I am also right in saying that the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 puts a weight on Ministers to bring forward the Orders in Council as soon as is practically possible. Ministers cannot just delay matters forever; there is actually an injunction to move with reasonable pace, allowing for some level of consideration.

Obviously I do not speak for the Government but my sense is that the Government would want to move reasonably quickly, so that we knew what sort of position we will be in. Also, it follows from what Ministers have said already, and the Leader of the House explicitly confirmed yesterday, that the Government are not trying to kill the Bill, but they want the House to have the opportunity to reflect on the boundary commissioners’ reports and, as I have said, to debate the Orders in Council. Then we can reflect and take further steps.

It is implicit in that process that the Orders in Council need to be introduced to give the House a chance to consider and debate them while there is still enough of the Session left so that if it was considered appropriate to grant the money resolution and proceed with consideration of the Bill, there would be enough time to see that process through. Effectively, that gives a window of opportunity, which Ministers will obviously reflect on when they make their decisions.