Minor and consequential amendments and savings

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 30 June 2020.

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Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 10:30, 30 June 2020

Clause 11 gives effect to the schedule to the Bill that contains minor and consequential amendments, including the repeal of provisions that are now spent or superseded. The schedule contains several minor provisions. As I mentioned at the beginning of our line-by-line scrutiny, one such provision clarifies that references to the Secretary of State include the Minister for the Cabinet Office, which alone takes up three of the 11 paragraphs that make up the schedule—perhaps a reflection of how minor the provisions are.

Others provisions in the schedule include paragraph 4(2) which, to reflect clause 5 of the Bill, which amends the number of constituencies to 650, updates the UK electoral quota to be based on 646 rather than 596. That reflects the number of constituencies minus the four protected constituencies. I acknowledge, however, that we will come on to debate aspects of that matter later. To reflect clause 4’s changes to public hearings, paragraph 5 tidies up the references to public hearings in the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986.

Hon. Members may be interested in the schedule’s reference to Blackpool, which I can explain, should the Committee be interested. No doubt the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood is agog to talk about Blackpool, so I will cover it briefly. There was a mistake in an amendment to the 1986 Act in the European Parliamentary Elections Etc. (Repeal, Revocation, Amendment and Saving Provisions) (United Kingdom and Gibraltar) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018.

The amendment made by that SI was intended to maintain the current position, that the BCE may take into account the boundaries of the European parliamentary electoral regions in England if it wished to do so, despite the repeal of the European parliamentary elections legislation. The regulations provided for newly defined English regions that correspond to the make-up of the existing European parliamentary electoral regions. The Bill adds the county of Blackpool to the description of the north-west region, which was erroneously omitted. Let the celebrations ring out around Blackpool for us having done that this morning in this Committee.

The schedule also ties up the drafting in previous related legislation, including the 1986 Act and the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. As they are very minor, I will not set them out in detail, although I would be happy to if hon. Members wish. The minor and consequential changes made by the schedule are important for tidying up the statute book and making the legislation easier to understand for the reader.