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 Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell 9:25 am, 30th June 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Mr Paisley. I congratulate the hon. Member for Ceredigion on having tabled this probing amendment, because our whole debate about clause 6 has emphasised the point about local ties and local communities. We must use this Committee to emphasise to the boundary commissions that although we do not necessarily need to legislate—the hon. Member for Ceredigion presented this amendment as a probing amendment, to spark that debate—we are discussing a very important section of this Bill, as I said last week, and it is incumbent on the boundary commissions to take notice of what has been said.

Rule 5 in the 1986 Act is exceptionally important. One can only draw on one’s local experience, so I come back to Leeds, because that is my area; it is where I live in Yorkshire, but there is a world of difference between inner Leeds and outer Leeds. The communities are very different. I have made reference to the long-serving previous Member for Leeds East, George Mudie, who was horrified at the thought of such different communities coming into an area that he had represented for so long. I hope that when the boundary commissions do the reviews, they take real notice of the debates about clause 6. Intelligent and sensible points have been made by Committee members on both sides of the Committee during this debate, which should act as the key guidance. Rather than us putting things on the face of the Bill, the commissions should consider the over-driving will and well-thought-out arguments in all the areas we have debated.

Again, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on having tabled a thought-provoking and important probing amendment to this Bill, because it is important that we probe all of its aspects. Everything that has been said during this debate—even on the comical side, such as the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood, on the other side of the Pennines, and I joshing last week about the wars of the roses—shows the importance of local identities and how they are put together. That is a very important aspect, and I hope the boundary commissions will take notice of it when they are drawing up their first draft.