Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 30 January 2019.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 10:00, 30 January 2019

What a great pleasure it is to see you again in the Chair, Ms Dorries. Before I start, the Minister is obviously not in her place this morning. She has written to the Member in charge explaining why, and those reasons are entirely routine. Opposition Members send our best wishes to her given the entirely understandable reasons why she is not here, and perhaps the hon. Member for Torbay will convey those best wishes to the Minister and send her our continued support.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton has been stoic in his determination to maintain a presence in this Committee. Having had discussions through the usual channels, he has now decided that we should meet less frequently. I will make two points in addressing the Committee this morning: first, that the Committee will be meeting less frequently does not mean in any sense that the urgency or importance of the Bill is diminished or has gone away. We will maintain pressure on the Government to bring forward the orders on the existing proposed boundaries so that they can be agreed or disagreed to by the House as soon as possible. That urgency has not gone away, and we will continue to press for that.

My other point is that, as we head towards Brexit, the Government and the House are considering all the legislation, including secondary legislation, required for either a Brexit shaped by a deal or—dare I say it?—no-deal. The amount of work that the House is being asked to undertake is increasingly clear, particularly work on secondary and delegated legislation. It will continue for a good while after we leave the European Union. The management and consideration of delegated legislation is putting a lot of pressure on colleagues across the House.

I simply say to the Committee that such pressure once again emphasises the folly of reducing the capacity of the House by reducing the number of hon. Members in this place from 650 to 600, which is why it is important that my hon. Friend’s Bill is given consideration. We are reducing the capacity of the House at a time when we should not be, and the legislature not being able to properly scrutinise the Government would be a bad thing for this House and for democratic scrutiny. Ms Dorries, I look forward to seeing you in the Chair again in a few weeks when this Committee sits again.