HC Deb 25 February 1952 vol 496 cc892-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Draft House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) (Bristol, North Somerset and Weston Super Mare) Order, 1952, a copy of which was laid before this House on 3rd December, 1951, be approved.—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]

1.9 a.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

Before we part with this Order there is a point which arises in regard to all these Orders upon which the Parliamentary Secretary can perhaps help the House. As I understand the Act, for three years after July, 1948, it was not within the power of the Boundary Commission to make even limited recommendations.

I should like to ask whether the Boundary Commission are now, from this date onwards, entitled to make more general recommendations. It would be a help to the House if we knew whether this was a general or a particular recommendation. There are a great many cases in which there are constituencies where the numbers very considerably exceed the quota —for example, among urban districts in Essex there are no less than five where the quota is exceeded by more than 30 per cent. Can we therefore have some indication as to what are the general recommendations of the Boundary Commission? Are we really to have limited areas of this sort or are we to have more general areas?

1.11 a.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)

I have not had notice of the point which the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised and it is rather difficult to make an answer at this time tonight without notice. Perhaps the best way I can reply to the point is to refer him to the Report of the Boundary Commission for England which he will find was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 3rd December, 1951—and these Orders are made as a result of that Report.

I cannot tell him whether or not that is part of a wider policy or whether it is merely a specific recommendation as regards these two Orders; but it is certainly following precisely the terms of that Report that these Orders are now laid.

Mr. Bing

Would it not be of convenience to the House generally, when we consider these Orders and when there is a possibility of wider Orders being made rather than narrower Orders, to have a general statement from the hon. Gentleman as to what is the general policy of the Boundary Commission in regard to these matters, which would be of value in subsequent discussions?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that I shall take note of what he has said and I will draw my right hon. and learned Friend's attention to the points he has raised.

Resolved, That the Draft House of Commons (Re-distribution of Seats) (Sunderland and Houghton-le-Spring) Order, 1952, a copy of which was laid before this House on 3rd December, 1951, be approved.—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]