Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 17 October 2018.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 10:00, 17 October 2018

One generally welcomes sinners who repent, and I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman is seized of the urgency of dealing with the boundaries. I reflect on how disappointing it is that his party and the Liberal Democrats did not think so when they combined to block the boundary review that was supposed to take place off the back of the legislation passed in the House in 2011.

Had they not conspired to block that review, new boundaries would already have been put before the House and we would already have fought a general election on them. I am pleased—I will be grateful if the hon. Member for City of Chester will confirm this—that the Labour party’s position is that we need new boundaries, because that was not its position when they were blocked last time. That is welcome. We obviously want this process to continue.

I have one final point. As I have said previously, consideration of the Bill is slightly putting the cart before the horse because, first, we would be considering it without knowing the House’s decision on the new boundaries laid before it. If the House accepts those, the decision has been taken. Secondly, even if the House were to reject the boundary commission proposals, as in the scenario set out by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, we should want to understand why the proposals brought forward under the existing legislation were rejected before we were to amend the Bill. Those reasons would obviously come up in the full debate that would take place in the House, and we should want that knowledge to inform the debate on the Bill.

That is why the sequence of this process that the Minister has set out in previous sittings is right, and I recommend that the Committee accepts it when it considers the motion to adjourn shortly.