Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 20th June 2018.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 9:45 am, 20th June 2018

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Owen. I will follow on from my good friend the hon. Member for Glasgow East, because the same thought had occurred to me about yesterday’s debate.

The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean talks about the will of the House of Commons being expressed yesterday, but the Government have form in this area. Every other Opposition motion in this Parliament has been ignored. That gives the Government a way out, because they could ignore the vote on yesterday’s Opposition day motion and proceed to table a money resolution for the Bill. That would be entirely consistent with their actions during the rest of this Parliament, unless of course, as my very good friend the hon. Member for Glasgow East suggests, they want to start taking note of votes in the House of Commons—even those in which Government Members do not bother to take part. We could start by taking the Commons and the votes seriously. I would happily take yesterday’s vote more seriously if there were consistency from the Government.

I want to talk about the character of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, who has shown a certain resilience throughout the process. He and I have been friends outside this place for 15 to 20 years. We come from the same region. As far as I know, he came to this country with his parents as a young child, with very little in his pockets. He served as a police officer, studied law in his own time, built up his own successful law practice, was elected to Manchester City Council, became the first Asian lord mayor of Greater Manchester, by which time I had known him for several years, and was elected to the European Parliament.

This is not a gentleman who gives up easily and throws in the towel when faced with adversity. If the Government are looking for somebody who will simply give up on the process because they are stonewalling, I suggest they have the wrong Afzal Khan. They will have to go outside and find another Afzal Khan, who would give up earlier. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his resilience and determination, which is the hallmark of the man I have known for many years.

We can keep playing a straight bat, but straight bats can be played at both ends of the wicket, and a devastating pace attack can be played at one end of the wicket as well. I urge the Minister to keep the bat up, but every innings must come to an end. At some point, this matter will be considered by the House, because I know that my hon. Friend will not give in. With that, for this week at least—looking forward with anticipation to next week—I will resume my seat.