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Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 5th June 2019.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 10:00 am, 5th June 2019

It is a great pleasure, as always, to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen. My hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow East and for Manchester, Gorton raised an intriguing prospect. As with so much else in the country at the moment, the fate of this Bill may well depend on the outcome of the Conservative leadership contest. However, as we have said previously, the question of how our democracy is founded and operates should not be a matter for party politics or internal party politics. Its credibility and honesty are corroded when the main driver behind the boundary proposals is anything other than what is best for the United Kingdom.

This week is of course the 75th anniversary of D-day, when we celebrate the heroism of the many thousands of men and women who launched the liberation of western Europe, and eventually freed it from the yoke of fascism, leading to the end of hostilities in Europe in the second world war. I make that point to remind the Committee that one year ago almost to the week—the Minister was not the Minister then, but he was present in the Committee—I made exactly the same point.

I make no apology for paying tribute at the start of June every year to the men and women who fought and in many cases died for our freedom. However, the relevant point to this Committee is that I made the same point a year ago, yet here we are one year later, and there has been no progress. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow East talked about proceedings continuing apace, but they are not. If they had been continuing apace, we would not be here now. One year later I am making a similar speech and we are no further forward.

I therefore say with great respect to the Minister, suggestions that work is continuing no longer have any credibility. It is time to put up or shut up, if I may be so blunt with the Government. Bring these proposals forward, let the House make a decision and then we can move forward, one way or the other. There is no logical reason why the orders should not have been drafted, and the Government have run out of excuses.