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 Chris Clarkson Chris Clarkson Conservative, Heywood and Middleton 4:15 pm, 25th June 2020

I will start by disappointing the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood, because there are actually a number of seats that cross the Lancashire county boundary into Yorkshire, including Ribble Valley, and Oldham East and Saddleworth. If she wants to hear how strongly people can feel about it, she should ask my hon. Friend Andrew Stephenson what happened when he put a red rose on Earby library.

I completely understand the depth of feeling about crossing the Tamar. Actually, Cornwall is about the right size for six seats, so that is unlikely to happen. There are actually four seats in the north-west that cross the Mersey.

We need to look at the fact that local government boundaries, as they are currently constituted after Redcliffe-Maud, are actually fairly arbitrary. Bits were hived off from one area to another based on things such as local transport links and who went to work in what area. I think that a little more attention needs to be paid to natural community boundaries when we have to look at crossing county boundaries, which will inevitably have to happen in some areas.

The hon. Member for City of Chester makes a very important point about trying to limit it to as few local government areas as possible. To the best of my knowledge, in the north-west there is only one seat that contains areas from three councils: Penrith and the Border, which is geographically massive.