Taking account of local government boundaries

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell 4:15 pm, 25th June 2020

As I said, my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty has four local authorities in his constituency, but I seriously take on board what the hon. Gentleman says about more than two authorities. That still comes back to the point that I am making—a constituency does not have to stay within one local authority. We can keep like communities together and make that work—people want the communities that they understand—especially when a region has a situation: North Yorkshire is half a seat short and West Yorkshire is half a seat short, so there will have to be that crossover. It should not just be an arbitrary line drawn on a map; it is about having regard to like communities.

The only point that I am trying to bring out through this probing amendment—I hope the Boundary Commission for England will look at a way to do it—is that, although some of these things seem obvious, actually in communities they are not so obvious. That is why I used the example of the people of Sherburn in Elmet, who are in North Yorkshire and are covered by Selby District Council and North Yorkshire County Council. They are in a different constituency from me in West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Council area, but they think I am their MP because my constituency has the word “Elmet” in it.

There are local considerations that cannot be defined by the local boundaries. I hope that this probing amendment is able to bring out the need for guidance and advice, which we can give to the Boundary Commission and say, “These things are not as vital.” I am sure that it will have heard the hon. Member for City of Chester, who said that two authorities do not seem to be a problem, but it is stretching it when we start to move beyond that.