Extent, Commencement and Short Title

Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 30 June 2020.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

I asked for fans to be supplied to Committee Room 14, and the fans are here. No sooner did I ask for them than the weather deteriorated. However, if anyone is too warm I will arrange for the fans to be shared with anyone who would like them.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Sir David, it is a wonderful pleasure to return to the Committee under your chairmanship. I wanted to clarify a point that was raised by the right hon. Member for Warley. He is not in his place now, but I hope it will be helpful to the Committee if I proceed.

The right hon. Gentleman asked how the protected status of Ynys Môn, on which we had an excellent debate this morning, would relate to the allocation of seats between the nations in the calculation of the electoral quota. I can make that clear now. At the start of the boundary review, before any allocations are made, the protected constituencies and their electorate are set to one side, as it were. That happens at the beginning before the national consideration. They are then not included in any consideration of either seat allocations or the calculation of the electoral quota. To illustrate that, with Ynys Môn added to the existing four protected constituencies there will be five in total. Those five will be removed from the overall total number, leaving 645. Their electorates would then be subtracted from the UK total electorate. The remaining UK electorate would be divided by 645, and that would give the electoral quota—the average on which each proposed constituency will be based. That figure is likely to fall somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000. The number of constituencies per home nation—the allocation—is then calculated by the usual method set out under rule 8 of schedule 2 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, which also uses the total electorate of each part of the UK, minus the electorate of any protected constituencies in that part. I will talk more about the method for that when we discuss new clause 3, but I hope that in the first instance that addresses the right hon. Gentleman’s query, even in his absence.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

My right hon. Friend is also a member of the Defence Committee, and the Secretary of State is giving evidence there this afternoon, so his not being here is certainly no discourtesy.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

That is extremely helpful to know. As I said once before in this Committee, it is of great benefit that we have such experienced Committee members, including no fewer than two former Secretaries of State, who naturally have other calls on their time.

The final clause of the Bill, clause 12, makes provision with respect to the extent of the Bill, its commencement and the short title. As it relates to the UK Parliament and its constituencies, the Bill extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The subject matter is reserved to the UK Parliament, so legislative consent motions from any of the devolved legislatures are not required. The Bill comes into force on the day when it is passed. It is important that it should commence on that day in order to allow the boundary commissions to have legal certainty on the rules, such as the number of constituencies, for the next reviews, which begin formally on 1 December 2020—the review date—and in practice will get going in earnest in early 2021.

As I noted during discussion on clauses 8 and 9, the Bill applies retrospectively in two clauses in relation to Government obligations on implementing the 2018 boundary review and the review of the reduction of seats. The provisions in those clauses are treated as having come into force from 24 March and 31 May 2020 respectively. The short title of the Bill, once it receives Royal Assent, is set out as the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 12 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.