§ 35 and 37. Mr. R. McNEILL
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will say by what method it is proposed to afford the oppor- 316 tunity, which he has stated will be given, to voters in constituencies which will lose their separate representation under the Instructions to the Boundary Commissioners to lay before the Commissioners their views as to the future boundaries of their constituencies; whether the same opportunity will be given to voters in constituencies which, without losing their separate representation, may have alterations made in their boundaries; whether he will give an assurance that no constituency shall have its boundaries altered without an opportunity being first given to the voters therein to lay their views on the proposed alteration before the Commissioners; (2) whether it has yet been decided by the Boundary Commissioners to hold public inquiries at which representative bodies may state their views regarding the proposed alterations in the constituencies; whether any such inquiries have yet been held; if he will say what representative bodies are to have a locus standito appear at such inquiries; and in what manner is notice to be given that an inquiry will be held in any particular locality?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I understand that in every case the boundaries of the proposed Parliamentary constituencies will be advertised locally, so as to enable persons interested to make representations to the Boundary Commissioners, and that, speaking generally, wherever the boundaries of existing divisions are proposed to be altered, an Assistant Commissioner will hold a local inquiry. No such inquiries have yet been held.
§ 36. Mr. McNEILL
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated loss of representation of rural voters under the Instructions to the Boundary Commissioners; and whether, having regard to the increased importance of the agricultural industry in view of the lessons of the War, he will add an Instruction directing the Boundary Commissioners to redistribute the county and borough seats, respectively, in such a manner as not to diminish the existing representation of rural voters?
§ Sir G. CAVE
It would be extremely difficult to make a reliable estimate of the 317 loss of representation of rural voters under the scheme, and it must be remembered that voters in rural areas are not necessarily agricultural voters. Some of the areas classed for local government purposes as rural districts are, in fact, densely populated mining areas, and there are many rural districts which are partly agricultural and partly industrial or residential. The subject-matter of the latter part of the question will no doubt be discussed in the coming Debate on the Instructions.
§ 100. Mr. ROWLANDS
asked the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Bewdley Division) when the schedule of charges to be allowed to the returning officers, under the Representation of the People Bill, will be circulated to Members?
§ Sir G. CAVE
My hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. These charges will require careful consideration by the Treasury, and it is not proposed to circulate a schedule at present.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
Is the House to have an opportunity of considering the scale of charges and comparing it with the Act of 1875?