Results 1–20 of 5617 for (in the 'Commons debates' OR in the 'Westminster Hall debates' OR in the 'Lords debates' OR in the 'Northern Ireland Assembly debates') speaker:Mark Harper

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: First, I should declare an interest—although it is not strictly an interest—as the Minister who took through the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. I feel some obligation to defend the very sensible proposals and arrangements that Parliament legislated for in that Act, as they are under attack from what are, I must say, some of the most ridiculous arguments I...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I would not go quite as far as that, as there is a serious point about representation, but the public were certainly not devastated by the idea of a modest reduction in the size of the House. The other place is, I think, the second largest legislative Chamber in the world after the Chinese National People’s Congress, and this lower House of Parliament is one of the largest lower...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I am glad the hon. Gentleman raised that point. It is certainly the case that there are more Members of the House of Lords, because at present, although they can retire, funnily enough when it is suggested to someone who has a life appointment with a considerable income attached to it that they should retire, very few choose to do so—although, to be fair, more of them have been retiring...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: Not at all. I have made the point that the other place has managed to reduce its costs, but importantly, its Members do not have any constituents to represent. It has made some savings. I have suggested that we could save costs by reducing the size of this House quite modestly. We would still remain a very large lower House of Parliament compared with many others.

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My hon. Friend is right, but I do not want to dilate too much on the other place as I am still pursuing the first argument that the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton made in favour of his Bill. The second part of the hon. Gentleman’s first argument, which dealt with trust in politics, was about the size of constituencies. He was talking about their geographical size. We obviously...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I am familiar with that issue. The hon. Gentleman might not be aware that when we were originally taking the legislation through, that issue was raised with me by colleagues from both Devon and Cornwall. Indeed, I think this was the issue that prompted my former right hon. Friend the then Member of Parliament for Witney and Prime Minister to make his unfortunate comment about the width of the...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I recognise that there are complexities due to local government boundaries, but I have to say that Members of Parliament are probably the only people who, when driving around the country, see boundaries in front of us as we cross them. I do not know whether other Members have a similar experience, but as I drive past the various signs on the M4, I think of myself passing through the...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I accept that, but we have to balance these things, which is what the boundary commissions do.

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I am conscious that I have dealt with only the first argument that the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton set out, and I want to make some progress before I take any more interventions. The hon. Gentleman’s second point, which related to MEPs, was about workload. I have dealt with costs, but I want to take the workload issue head on, because there is a flipside relating to devolution,...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, as one would expect, given that he is the distinguished Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which covers exactly this area of policy. I am grateful to him. The registers are absolutely up to date. The boundaries, however, are based on registers from 2000, meaning that we have not had a boundary review for some...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: If we look at the existing range of constituency sizes—excluding the small protected island constituencies—we see that some Members represent mainland constituencies with perhaps only 40,000 electors, but others represent constituencies with nearly 100,000 voters. They seem to manage perfectly well, so I do not think that we will find things enormously challenging. I see that my...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: The hon. Gentleman obviously has a very narrow view of the Commonwealth.

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My hon. Friend makes a good point. I am not proposing that we reduce the size of this Parliament to that extent, but if a legislator in a similar type of system is capable of representing more than 2 million people, I do not that our rather modest changes should be completely beyond our wit. I turn now to what the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton and other Opposition Members called the 2...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I would prefer to test the opinion of Parliament, and we may or may not test Parliament’s opinion today. The right process is to do what is set out in legislation. The boundary commissions in the four parts of the United Kingdom will report by October 2018. Orders will then be brought before this House and the other place, and we will vote on them. They might get through; they might...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, but I am perfectly happy to work with him on common areas of concern, even though he represents a different political party. If we change parliamentary boundaries so that a particular part of a city or area is to be represented by two different Members of Parliament, the idea that somehow they will be incapable of working together, and with their police...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My hon. Friend makes a good point. Devolution of local government also goes back to the point about workloads. Again, it demonstrates that different areas of the country are grouped together for certain purposes, and we have seen that level of devolution in the west midlands and we are seeing considerable levels of devolution in Greater Manchester under the Mayor, Andy Burnham.

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: I am a great believer in that level of devolution. The hon. Gentleman is a distinguished former local government leader, and I do think that decisions in this country are too centralised. Giving important areas of the country with political leadership the ability to make more decisions for themselves is welcome. Of course, there is nothing to prevent people from working together. I was...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: No. I accept that some people may not be able to use the electronic method, but they are of course able to register in the traditional way. I think I am right in saying, although the Minister will be able to confirm this, that many local authorities go to considerable lengths to make sure people who might be disadvantaged are registered to vote. I know many local authorities make great...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My hon. Friend is absolutely right about that. We had an argument about this at the time, and the concept that the head of household, who was invariably the man, should be responsible for registering people was rather out of date. Putting that responsibility on individuals is an improvement. As I said, all the evidence suggests, and the fact that a lot of people registered to vote in the...

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill (1 Dec 2017)

Mark Harper: My right hon. Friend makes a good point. We are not carrying out this process at a massively fast pace, and the boundary changes should have come into force some time ago, but there was an unholy alliance between the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats. I do not see any Liberal Democrats here today, which is surprising, because they are normally fascinated beyond all bounds of...


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