Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 24 October 2018.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 10:00, 24 October 2018

It is not scientific. I think I set it out when I took through the original legislation. We made a decision to reduce the size of the House. There is nothing magic about 600. The current number is 650 and we decided to reduce that by about 10%, because that was about the amount we were shrinking of the rest of the public sector, and 600 is a round number. Rather than saying it was 587.5 or 592, it is 600. There was a conspiracy theory at the time about this special number that was specially designed to have some specific effect, but it is just a round number—600 seems a more sensible number than 604. There is nothing magic about it, but there was a general sense that it would be better to have slightly fewer Members. By comparison with similar western democracies, we actually have quite a lot of Members of Parliament at our level of government, and it seems sensible to make a modest reduction.