Taking account of local government boundaries

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke 9:25 am, 30th June 2020

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Mr Paisley, in a much cooler room.

I commend the hon. Member for Ceredigion on his amendment. He has made an extremely strong case for the importance of recognising language. I know how important the Welsh language is. I was brought up in south Wales, albeit not west Wales, and we all have views on the parts of Wales we know and love well. Now, more than when I was at school, Welsh is a living language. I commend everybody who has made that possible.

Within the rules that are already set out in schedule 2 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, “local ties” can take account of language. Indeed, in the hon. Gentleman’s own advocacy for his amendment, he set out clearly that the boundary commission is already receptive to arguments made with regard to the Welsh language and it has already been shown that Welsh can be taken into account in the local ties.

The reason I have chosen to speak to this amendment is that I want to share with the Committee a way that we might think about this. There are lots of different ties that can be called local ties, including language. My concern about specifying language on the face of the Bill would be the impact that that might inadvertently have on other local ties. By having language on the face of the Bill, it might imply that other local ties that are not specified in that way may not be taken into account, or not be treated as well as they might have been in the past.

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s argument and why he wants to put it forward, but my concern is that that might inadvertently affect the way the boundary commission views other local ties. I hope that the Minister, while listening to the point, will see that the Government should not accept the amendment at this point.