HC Deb 26 January 1955 vol 536 cc180-382

4.32 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Woolwich) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order slightly alters the boundary between the two Woolwich constituencies so as to bring them into line with recently altered ward boundaries. The effect will be that the electorate of Woolwich, East will be increased from 50,549 to 50,848, and that of Woolwich, West correspondingly decreased.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Woolwich) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.


Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Spelthorne, Feltham and Heston and Isle-worth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order creates a new borough constituency of Feltham from parts of Spelthorne and Heston and Isleworth. It will consist of the urban district of Feltham, which is now in the Spelthorne Division, and two wards of the Borough of Heston and Isleworth now in the constituency of that name. The effect, so far as the numbers in the constituencies are concerned, will be this. At the present time, Spelthorne has an electorate of 75,120, and Heston and Isleworth an electorate of 78,044. In the three new constituencies, the electorates will be, Spelthorne 44,430, Heston and Isleworth 58,595, and Feltham 50,139.

This Order is necessary in spite of the fact that the electorate of the County of Middlesex went down by about 19,000 between 1946 and 1953. On the new basis, resulting from the creation of the 17 extra seats in 1948, it is entitled to one more seat. The existing 28 seats have an average electorate of 58,500, in round figures, and the proposed 29 seats will have an average of 56,500. The constituency of Heston and Isleworth has the largest electorate—over 78,000—of the existing constituencies in Middlesex, and Spelthorne has the third largest. It therefore seems right that the new constituency should be created here.

The proposal to detach the two wards of Heston and Isleworth seems, in the circumstances, unavoidable. The Feltham district is too small for the purpose of making it a separate constituency. It would have an electorate of only 30,000, and, therefore, it would be impracticable to have a separate constituency of that urban district. This appears to be the most satisfactory arrangement that can be made in the circumstances.

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I propose to advise my hon. Friends to support this Order, and I wish to welcome the much fuller information and reasoned argument which the Joint Under-Secretary has submitted to us in respect of this Order compared with the somewhat meagre way in which similar Orders were moved and defended when the matter was last before the House.

4.37 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)

It is not true, as the Joint Under-Secretary said, that this is probably the best that can be done. I must say that the Boundary Commission's proposals for Middlesex seem to me to suffer from the same disadvantages and the same objections as a number of us put before the Home Office on our last series of discussions of the draft Orders.

There is really nothing in the county electorate which makes it imperative at this stage to create an additional constituency. The only reason that course has apparently been recommended is that the Boundary Commission has once again proceeded county by county. By dividing its unofficial English electoral quota into the county electorate the Commission gets the answer of 29 instead of 28, and so it has searched around to see where it is possible to create an additional constituency.

In this case, it may well be that the new constituency will favour the Opposition, but that is no reason why we should not state the same basic objections of

principle to this proposal as we have in other cases where the artificial arrangements proposed by the Commission have been supported by the Government.

There is a great number of objections —I do not wish to develop them all—about this proposal in this part of the county. In the first place, as the Joint Under-Secretary himself recognises, two wards have been taken away from the local authority of Heston and Isleworth which itself objected to the proposal, and which is now to be disembodied. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman who represents that constituency is going to say anything about it. This is another case where no inquiry was held.

Then this proposal suffers from the fact that the Commission has violated the rule which asks them not to infringe local government boundaries unless there is an overwhelming reason for doing so. I suggest that there is no overwhelming reason to do so in this case, for the simple reason that although the present constituency is large there will be no fewer than five constituencies of over 70,000 still left within the county.

One sees again the objection we mentioned before. If the Commission adopts the method of proceeding county by county and the Government accept it, we are faced with the fact that it is possible to reduce or increase a seat only where there is a large electorate and a large number of constituencies. It cannot be done in the small counties. So, five constituencies of more than 70,000 are still to be left in that other part of Middlesex and nothing is to be done about them, while in this particular south-west corner of Middlesex it has been possible, by breaking local government boundaries, to create an additional seat and thereby satisfy the artificial formula which the Commission uses. This seems a very unreal process of pushing the electors about quite unnecessarily. We have not had sufficient justification for this Order.

One further point ought to be made, and it could have been made had there been an inquiry. If it is desirable to create a new seat, I would remind the House that representations were made to the Commission that parts of the Borough of Feltham should be associated with parts of the other outstanding large constituency in the district, that of Twickenham. There were very substantial reasons, if a change is felt necessary at all—and I would have suggested that the status quo might well remain for a further period—why the association of the Urban District of Feltham with part of the Borough of Twickenham would have been much more desirable.

In the first place, the area between Feltham and Twickenham is almost entirely built-up and continuous. In the case of Feltham and Heston and Isleworth there is undeveloped land in between and no direct connection as there would be between, say, the Heathfield and Whitton wards of Twickenham and the Urban District of Feltham. What is being done is to put together two areas, one of which has expressed a very strong desire not to be included, with two other areas that are separated by undeveloped or partly-developed land. The alternative of putting Feltham with Twickenham has not been dealt with, although we have heard no suggestion why it would be inappropriate.

It seems that our general criticism about the way in which the Commission has worked, and the way in which the Home Office has followed the Commission's recommendations without considering other proposals and objections, applies again in this case. A great many anomalies are left. I have already referred to the five constituencies with more than 70,000; there are four constituencies of between 60,000 and 70,000, nine between 50,000 and 60,000, eight between 40,000 and 50,000—that is, a whole range of constituencies large and small about which nothing has been done. It may well be that nothing could be done, but that would further reinforce the argument that we put forward on the last occasion that there has been too much interference with boundaries too soon after the last redistribution, which came into effect only four years ago.

I gather that my hon. Friends do not feel strongly enough on this matter to oppose this recommendation, which characterises in Middlesex nearly all the defects which, time after time, we have pointed out to the Home Office.

4.44 p.m.

Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)

I should like to make one or two remarks, not because we desire to oppose this Order, but because a very important principle is at stake to which the Under-Secretary of State should apply his mind.

It cannot be denied that a very drastic alteration is proposed in this Order. An area is, in a Parliamentary-boundary sense, being cut up, and it is clear, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) has pointed out, that Rule 4 is being departed from. It is plain from the Commission's Report that a departure of that character was looked upon as very serious, and one which ought not to take place unless it was inevitable and indispensable in order to bring about some practical and necessary result.

The objection made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), that we have not had sufficient information, is therefore made good. The Under-Secretary of State merely got up to tell the House that this was the Order before us, and he pointed out the mathematical differentia that would take place as the result of these geographical boundary alterations. That was all he said. It did not get anywhere near the vital principle that is at stake here. We ought to hear very much more about why these changes are to take place.

Another reason why we ought to hear it is that these changes are being made apparently against local opinion. There is no local authority in favour of them, and all sorts of administrative objections are taken to them. That is another ground upon which we ought to have further information why this is being done. That is the principle. Where a change is brought about which affects that principle the House ought in every case to be given sufficient information to justify it.

4.47 p.m.

Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isle-worth)

It is almost impossible to make any proposal regarding boundaries that does not offend somebody, but of all the proposals which have been brought forward in the present review, I thought the one now being discussed would probably cause less annoyance than any other. There are some people who will not like it; we have to accept that fact. I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). Gloucester is some way from Heston and Isleworth. The hon. And learned Member raised the question of antagonising local opinion. Of course, he is quite—

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I do not know whether that remark is intended to be a sneer. If so, it is very ill-advised. Perhaps the hon. Member wants something to talk about. I was raising a point of principle, which is as good for Spelthorne as it is for Gloucester.

Mr. Harris

And I am trying to make the point that, while the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester may know quite a lot about boundaries, the one thing he does not know anything about is local opinion. The inhabitants of Cranford ward and Hounslow Heath ward are annoyed at being taken away from the Borough of Heston and Isleworth, which they like very much, because it is an exceedingly good borough. I am sorry to see them go, even though it is to my political advantage that they should go. I do not mind being frank. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) has very rightly said that the new constituency may very well give the Labour Party another seat, but we are not looking at this matter from the party point of view at the moment. I am sorry to see these wards go, and especially London Airport, in which I have taken an interest in the last few years.

It is unfortunate that the two wards are to be taken away and added to another constituency. I think the Home Secretary knows what the real fear of the Borough of Heston and Isleworth is. When the borough council made its protest, it thought it would not be long before the five wards would gel: big ideas about becoming a borough council themselves. In order to support their claim for borough council status they will say, "You let us have Cranford and Hounslow Heath wards for local authority as well as for Parliamentary purposes." That is the main burden of their objection. They are frightened that this may be a disembodiment not only for Parliamentary but for local government as well.

Although I think that this is an alteration in boundaries which will not be violently contested by anyone, it does show the weakness of the Act which hon. Members opposite passed in 1947. It is an argument for revising the Act that it enables two wards to be taken away.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles Mac-Andrew)

To speak of revising the Act goes far beyond the Order.

Mr. Harris

I have made my point.

Mr. Skeffington

The hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris) seems to assume that in this case there must be an alteration. is he unprepared still to continue representing 78,000 persons, including those in the two wards to which he has referred, or does he think that they must go?

Mr. Harris

There are three very large constituencies; Twickenham, Spelthorne and Heston and Isleworth. It is not for me to say that I am willing to represent 78,000 people, although, of course, I am. I am willing to represent 178,000. The Act demanded that the Boundary Commission should review this, so it is taken out of my hands.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Spelthorne, Feltham and Heston and Isle-worth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

4.52 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Harrow) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has found my method more agreeable—that, I think, was the term he used. If I may say so, one's appreciation of a speaker very often depends on one's attitude to the subject with which he is dealing. It so happens that the subject matter of the last Order and of this Order is not, I think, calculated in any way to offend any hon. Members, and certainly not those sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)

Are we to understand that the Joint Under-Secretary is to give explanations to the House only in regard to Orders which are unopposed?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I said it gave cause for gratification to the right hon. Member for South Shields. I can assure the House that, having checked the notes made shortly before Christmas. I should, in regard to both Orders, have made virtually the same speeches then as I have done today.

This Order alters the boundaries between the three Harrow constituencies so as to reduce the discrepancy between their electorates. The electorate of Harrow, Central, is increased from about 49,600 to 52,100; that of Harrow, West, from about 47,000 to 55,100, while the electorate of Harrow, East, is reduced from about 61,400 to 50,700. There is no question here of cutting across local government boundaries. No matter of that kind will arise.

I should, perhaps, tell the House that the changes which the Commission recommend in the Report, on which the Order is founded, are not the same as those which it proposed provisionally. The provisional proposals were acceptable to the local authority and in fact, to the local Conservative Party, but the local Labour Party criticised them and submitted an alternative scheme. This scheme seemed to the Commission to be as good numerically—and somewhat better geographically-as its own original proposal. It involved transferring only two wards between constituencies instead of several. It therefore adopted the scheme. For the reasons which I have given, and because it is, in fact, the recommendation of the Commission, I commend this proposal to the House.

4.55 p.m.

Mr. F. P. Bishop (Harrow, Central)

This Order, on the face of it, sounds as though it were a purely domestic arrangement—an adjustment of boundaries between the three constituencies within the Borough of Harrow. That borough is at present represented, and has been since the present arrangement was made in 1948, by three Conservative Members. Whatever adjustments there may be, we hope and believe that no change in that representation will take place.

There are one or two points of principle involved here. To the Harrow local authority, and to local opinion generally, the Order appears to involve an unnecessary disturbance of three divisions which were founded, in their present form, only in 1948. Harrow is typical of the case referred to in paragraphs 13 and 20 of the Boundary Commission's Report; where the Commission has found it necessary, under what it conceived to be its terms of reference, to make adjustments in the boundaries within a borough purely for the sake of securing a better numerical equality.

In Harrow there is a numerical discrepancy. Of the three divisions one has an electorate of 61,000, another has 50,000, and the third has 47,000 electors. Those figures are all well within the bounds set by the Commission itself around which the average electorate is fixed. It appears, not only to us but to the local authority and others concerned, that there is really no adequate justification for interfering with an arrangement which is scarcely seven or eight years old. We should have been given a longer time to settle down and to allow the changes of population which are going on in Harrow to work themselves out.

My other point, and it is important. has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary. The Final Report of the Boundary Commission was entirely different from its Interim Report. That is a serious matter and has this effect. The Final Report now embodied in this Order has not been through the procedure laid down by the Act. It is a new scheme of which no one had heard anything at all until the Final Report was published.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

The hon. Member makes a curious point. What has happened in Harrow has happened in other places. Here we have the amended proposals. We do not keep on amending and amending the amended proposals. The whole nub of the hon. Member's objection is that, whereas the Interim Report produced three Conservative seats, this Order would give two seats to Conservatives and one to Labour. That is his whole objection.

Mr. Bishop

My argument is that the Boundary Commission's Final Report is not an amendment of its Interim Report at all, but is an entirely new proposal. The Interim Report involved very drastic changes indeed in the boundaries within Harrow. I do not think the hon. Gentleman can seriously suggest that in arguing this point I am arguing for my own advantage, because under the interim proposals my own division of Harrow Central was to disappear altogether. The two divisions of Harrow, Central and Harrow, West were to be so drastically changed and intermingled that they were to be two entirely new divisions, while the third division, of Harrow, East, was to suffer less drastic changes.

In spite of what has been said, the Commission's Interim Report was by no means to our taste or, as far as I know, to that of anybody else. Any hon. Member who has had the privilege of sitting for a new division knows what is involved in the organisation and build-up—and that applies to both parties; and all will realise what is involved in such drastic changes and in the prospect of having to start all over again. This is the prospect which faced us. Not only the political associations of both sides but also many others are involved—for instance, the local authority and the county council—for these changes lead to redividing the county electoral areas. That follows as a consequence, although I do not suggest that the Boundary Commission's Report dealt with it.

What happened was that, after very careful consideration and much heart burning, all parties concerned, as far as we understood it, decided to accept this drastic alteration in the belief that it would probably set the new boundaries for many years. The local authority and the county council accepted that. To the best of our knowledge and belief, it was also accepted by the political associations.

All that has been changed, and the final Report of the Commission puts forward an entirely new scheme which none of those concerned has had an opportunity of considering and on which none has had an opportunity of making representations. It has the effect—and I am not suggesting that this is the intention—that all the safeguards of the procedure laid down in the Act have been by-passed and evaded.

The Commission made quite clear in its Report the reluctance with which it faced the necessity, in many cases, of making adjustments in constituencies within the borders of a borough. We cannot blame the Commission for having done so, because clearly it felt that it was bound to do so by its terms of reference. But my right hon. and gallant Friend is not bound by those terms of reference, and it would have been possible for him to take the hint so broadly given in the Commission's Report and to save us from the necessity of suffering these changes, which appear to us to be uncalled for and unnecessary.

When the Commission has finished with Harrow we shall still have a situation in which there are no fewer than four divisions in Middlesex alone which have smaller electorates than the smallest of ours and six or seven divisions in Middlesex alone which have larger electorates than the largest of ours. It can hardly be argued, therefore, that this disruption is necessary.

My hon. Friends and I have a duty to our constituents to submit the case which they feel strongly. I hope that even now it may be possible for my right hon. and gallant Friend to reconsider the matter and to save us from the necessity of facing this disruption within a borough which became a borough only last year and which has had a great deal to do in reorganising itself in the last few years.

5.5 p.m.

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devon-port)

We all realise from the speech of the hon. Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Bishop) that he was speaking in moving circumstances. He was somewhat in the position of a person who was already in the tumbril on the way to the guillotine when he was reprieved. He therefore spoke with more relief than he might have done had the original proposals for this area been passed.

The hon. Gentleman also made an appeal to the Government asking them not to accept the Commission's Report. I have great sympathy with that appeal, but I should have had more sympathy with it had he proposed to do something about the situation. He said, "We all have a duty to our constituents." He has a duty to his constituents in this matter which he does not propose to fulfil. It is no good his complaining to the Minister about the Minister's decision not to change the Commission's proposals, because the House has precisely the same right as the Minister to change any or all of the proposals put before it by the Commission. It ought, therefore, to be known in Harrow that, although the hon. Member has opposed these proposals and although a number of people think they are uncalled for—to use his own phrase—he proposes to do nothing about it because the Minister has made up his mind in advance that he will agree with everything which the Commission has reported.

The hon. Member had some powerful arguments as to why the Order should be opposed. It has happened in the case of Harrow, as in other constituencies, that the final draft of the Commission's Report is entirely different from the proposals which were brought forward earlier last year, so that proposals are going through the House, with the Government accepting them in every detail, which the local authorities have not had the slightest chance of examining, as they had the chance of examining previous proposals. This has happened in many constituencies and it is a most disgraceful procedure, because not only were the constituencies denied the chance of a public inquiry to go into these and other proposals but, when the final proposals by the Commission were made, the Minister refused to see any deputations about them. He has therefore had no consultation on the subject with people who know it. The first opportunity which he has had to hear the arguments against the Commission's proposals is in the House. Everything has been fixed in advance.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

At the moment we are dealing only with the Harrow Order.

Mr. Foot

I will confine myself strictly to the Harrow Order. The first opportunity which the Home Secretary has had of hearing the objections from Harrow to the proposals which the House is debating is at this moment—and yet he has said that the Government will in any event support the Commission's proposals.

The hon. Member for Harrow, Central knows perfectly well that the only reason he made his speech was that he had to say something which would be reported in Harrow tomorrow. For the rest of this evening and possibly longer we shall have a situation in which each hon. Member will speak, perhaps not so eloquently as the hon. Member for Harrow, West, each in the same sense: "I will get my piece off my chest. That will be reported. I shall be able to go to Harrow and say, Of course I did not like what the Government were doing and I made my protest in the House of Commons. I told the Minister from the back benches how strongly we feel in Harrow. I left him in no doubt that in Harrow we took a very strong view of him.'"

I am sure the hon. Member hopes that he will capture a few independent votes as a result of his appeal to the Minister from the back benches. However many people may be deceived in Harrow—and I am told that it is the kind of place in which a lot of people are likely to be deceived—I can assure him that no one is deceived in the House. Everyone here knows that we are to participate in the next six or eight or ten hours—

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

My hon. Friend is an optimist.

Mr. Foot

—we do not know how long —in a complete fraud. All these debates will mean absolutely nothing. The Minister has decided everything in advance and Harrow, like other places, has to lump it.

In the case of Harrow there is a particularly strong case because the figures show only small changes and even if we take the figures in all the Harrow constituencies, before or after these proposals, in no case would they become very high or very low. They are all well within the range. In my view, there is nothing in the instructions which were given to the Boundary Commission which entitles the Commission to make such changes as it has made in Harrow. The Commission seems to have done it for fun, knowing that the Minister will stand by the changes in any case and that they will not be exposed to detailed examination.

If we are not to have this state of affairs again, we must tell the Boundary Commission at any rate—we may have some effect on the Commission even if we have no effect on the Government—that this kind of tomfoolery will not be tolerated. What is the sense of taking 2,000 or 3,000 from one constituency to another when that does not make any difference to the general principles of the scheme? There is no detailed instruction to the Boundary Commission which entitles it to make any such changes. Therefore, we ought to have a much better explanation from the Government on this issue, even though, apparently, it is not to be opposed.

I am told that although this is a legitimate process in Harrow it may have some advantageous by-products, but I am opposed to the methods by which the Boundary Commission has operated whether there are advantageous by-products or not. We should ex amine each of these proposals for the simple reason that neither the Minister nor he Government have taken the trouble to examine any of them in detail and report to the House on them. They have not tried to explain why in this case it was necessary to switch these wards.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Foot

It is no use the Minister shaking his head, or making an equally rare intervention in the debate, because we are told from Harrow that this change is not wanted. Why on earth should the people of Harrow have to take this change when they do not want it, when the Boundary Commission was not instructed to do this and the Government have not examined it? The House of Commons can debate it until the cows come home, but it will not make the slightest difference.

It ought to be known in Harrow and throughout the country that the whole of this process of the Boundary Commission's Report marks an abdication of the responsibilities of the House of Commons. We all know from the procedure we had before and from the fact that already 20 or 30 Orders which have been passed have now gone through the final process that some affect Orders we have still to discuss. Yet the final decision has been made by the Queen's approval being given to those Orders, although the decision under some of them will affect some of the other Orders we have yet to discuss. By the decision of submitting them to the Queen we know perfectly well, if we did not know before, that the Government are not going to take the slightest notice of any argument.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon. Member said that some of the Orders which have been approved affect some of the Orders not yet approved. Will he mention any case where that is so?

Mr. Foot

I should have thought that if there is any case at all for the Government taking the whole of the country and dividing by the numbers required under the Act for each constituency, the decision made about each constituency affects all the others. If they have already decided in advance to accept the Boundary Commission's figure for the whole lot, that will affect each constituency we have still to discuss. If the Joint Under-Secretary does not realise that fact, he may not have grasped the whole principle he is operating. If in the case of Harrow or other constituencies we are discussing we were to make a drastic change, we might alter the numbers and, of course, the numbers would be affected by the Orders already approved. Therefore, the House of Commons and the country ought to know that the Government are conducting a complete fraud in this matter. They have treated the House of Commons with total contempt. The people in Harrow ought to know that just as much as people all over the country.

5.14 p.m.

Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)

I should perhaps assure the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) that I shall remain a "by-product" after the next Election. Possibly after his speech I shall be a more advantageous by-product than he anticipated, but I must defend my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Bishop) from the unjust attack made upon him by the hon. Member on the grounds that my hon. Friend was speaking for the benefit of the local Press.

Mr. Pannell

The hon. Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Bishop) is not concerned with the local Press, he is concerned with "The Times "—that is what he has his eye on.

Mr. Bishop

I must correct the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell). I have no connection whatever with "The Times."

Mr. Pannell

I am sorry.

Mr. Harvey

The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell) is slightly out-of-date as usual. I understand that he is a "by-product" likely to suffer.

Mr. Pannell

The hon. Member should not get it wrong. I speak in complete innocence, as my seat is to be as safe as the Bank of England. I shall get back what I lost six years ago, so please leave me out of the argument until we start to discuss Leeds at about 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.

Mr. Harvey

If I may return to the attack which was made on my hon. Friend, he did in fact make an appeal to the Home Secretary to consider withdrawing this Order. We are yet to be told by my right hon. and gallant Friend whether he is in fact prepared to withdraw it.

The hon. Member for Devonport outlined very clearly the procedure in Harrow. I must say that for once I had some sympathy with the arguments he put forward. I would draw his attention to the fact, which was disclosed by the Joint Under-Secretary when he was speaking about the arrangements, that the adjustment is the result of a recommendation of the local Harrow Labour Party.

I believe that on certain occasions in debate and elsewhere there have been suggestions that my right hon. and gallant Friend has been inclined to adjust particular proposals for the benefit of his own side. If ever there were a case in which my right hon. and gallant Friend has steadfastly refused to make such an adjustment, this is such a case. Had he been prepared to accept the recommendation which the Boundary Commission put forward before, there would have been no question at all that there would have been three extremely steady Conservative seats in Harrow. Now there will be two extremely steady Conservative seats in Harrow and one Conservative seat which will be very firmly won by the hon. Member who represents it at present.

I must protest against the accusations made in regard to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central who, after all, is getting a very much better deal from the point of view of organisation as a result of this adjustment. His intervention was in the interests of Harrow Council, on which both shades of opinion are represented and which supported the original arrangement put forward by the Commission. I think my hon. Friend has ventilated the facts fully and fairly by asking my right hon. and gallant Friend to consider the matter.

We in Harrow realise that we are an extremely important community. We are the youngest borough, although that has no bearing on the matter. We realise that the whole question must be looked at from the national standpoint and we are not prepared to put forward local con- siderations with undue weight. But we do ask the Home Secretary to give serious consideration to the points which have been made and to the point that has been very firmly put forward that this is an adjustment upon which no one has had an opportunity to make any observations until this moment. Perhaps in the light of that my right hon. and gallant Friend would be so kind as to give a fuller explanation why the adjustment was made.

5.20 p.m

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I visited Harrow some time ago to debate with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey), and this was the subject of much conversation. The original proposals gave Harrow three strong Tory seats. The amended proposals were submitted by the Labour Party and gave two rather stronger seats to the Tories and put the hon. Gentleman out. The only reason why hon. Gentlemen on the back benches opposite accept there arises from the quixotry which affects us all in politics when our basic ration is unaffected, for we are then quite prepared to give away a few thousand votes when they do not endanger us. That is the case here.

In this case the Tories will say, "This is the sort of thing a Tory Government do for the Labour Party but not for us." It is an exception to the rule. This is to sacrifice Harrow in the Tory interest for the sake of all the other seats the Tories are to have in various other parts of the country. They can always say, "Look what we did to ourselves at Harrow. It does not matter what happens at Blackburn and places like that, or Fulham or Hammersmith, but in Harrow we sacrificed ourselves." It was an accident. It is true that they did not fully understand the local circumstances, but they will be able to say that they made this concession.

We surely reached the highest pinnacle of humbug with the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrow, East when he said "We do not know what my right hon. and gallant Friend is going to say." That reminds me of an Irish chairman I knew, who, after four times pulling up an Irish alderman, was told by the alderman, "I refuse to allow you to anticipate what I was not going to say." The hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrow, East knows full well what the Home Secretary will tell us, and the Home Secretary knows this position, I suppose, well enough.

Mr. Ian Harvey

How does the hon. Gentleman know that I know anything of what my right hon. and gallant Friend will say?

Mr. Pannell

Of course, I assumed that.

Mr. Harvey

On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member to make an accusation on an assumption?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think there is a point of order here.

Mr. Pannell

I leave it to the House. Hon. Members opposite who represent the Harrow constituencies can, of course, contest the Motion and go into the Lobby in defence of their principles. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), who takes an objective view of all these matters, will probably support them if they do. I do not want to commit him, of course. However, I think I can commit him, because I know that hon. Members opposite will not vote against the Motion.

5.23 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

There is not very much to reply to in the debate, for it has been largely a comment on the facts which I laid before the House when moving the Motion. It is true that the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), with his lively imagination, imputed motives to some of my hon. Friends. I think that as a writer, he will agree that there is no imagination without some personal experience.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) asked me for some fuller explanation, and I think that he was thinking along the same lines as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Bishop), who thought that this might be one of the cases referred to in paragraph 20 of the Report. In one case the alteration was a fairly substantial one. The electorate of Harrow, East is reduced from 61,000-odd to 50,000-odd, a reduction of 11,000. It may be that this is the sort of case which the Commission had in mind in writing that paragraph, but if so, I should think it is a border-line case.

At all events it does go to show that if the Government had done what they have often been pressed by the Opposition to do, and had thought that they had a duty, so to speak, to find flaws in the recommendations, if in this case we had sought to read between the lines, to take the hint, as, I think, it was called by one of my hon. Friends, that this was not a case in which the Commission itself was really recommending, we should certainly have incurred, and quite properly incurred, serious criticism from the Opposition, because this would have been a case in which we should have undone a recommendation which was obviously based on a request coming from the party opposite. I do not think I can add to that, and I ask the House to approve the Order as a fair and proper Order.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Would my hon. Friend then say for the record why it was that when the Harrow Council, on which representatives of both parties, including the party opposite, had approved the original recommendation and had not asked for a public inquiry, it was then found desirable to change the complete arrangements and to put the change forward without anybody having the slightest chance, as the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) pointed out, of challenging it, if anybody desired to, until it arrived in this House?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

My hon. Friend asks me what was in the mind of the Commission, and I really cannot answer that. All I can say is that the Commission has to have regard to all the representations made to it and give due weight to them. Why the Commissioners chose to give effect to one recommendation and not another is not a matter on which it is possible for the Government to answer. In so far as we are responsible to this House we must be responsible for deciding on the merits of the case and not on what is in the mind of the Commission. We must be guided by the Commission, but we cannot speculate on what is in its mind.

5.27 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I did not intend to intervene, because I suspected that this would have been one of the Orders to go through in silence. The discussion has been mainly taken up by hon. Members on the other side. All I want to say is that I do not accept the closing sentences of the Joint Under-Secretary of State, because, after giving some reasons in the first speech he made why the thing should have been done, he has got back to saying that the Government have accepted the views of the Boundary Commission. That is, I think, the point of issue between us.

I think on this occasion, judging from the history of the case as far as I know it, the Government appear to have had good reason for doing so. I think that, perhaps, the re-arrangement, viewed purely from the point of view of the map and of the numbers concerned, is an improvement on what exists now and on the original proposals, but I do not think that the Government are entitled to say that they accept it merely because the Boundary Commissioners have recommended it, and that that is virtually an end of the matter. I believe that on all these Orders the House has a judicial as well as a purely administrative function to discharge, and while this would not have been one of the cases in which I should have thought that it was worth while exercising it, I still think that I cannot accept the mere dictum that this is a Boundary Commission recommendation.

Nor do I accept the view that, I think, has been put forward by both sides of the House that where an improvement was suggested it was wrong of the Boundary Commission to accept it even although the local authority did not accept it. I hope we shall never in this House believe that a local authority always on all issues represents the views of the people who live within the boundaries of the area it administers. I speak as one who has spent a considerable time in local government. There are occasions when one is very conscious that a local authority, with the best will in the world, is not voicing the views on a particular issue of the people of the area. While I support the Motion I reject the grounds on which the Joint Under-Secretary of State has asked us to accept it.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Harrow) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

5.30 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George)

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order does not need very much explanation. It falls well within the rule laid down by Statute for the Commission to make electorates as nearly as possible equal. The result here is that the electorate of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central, which at the moment is 48,312 and the electorate of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West, which is about 64,000, become respectively 58,445 and about 54,000. There is no question of cutting across local government boundaries here. It seems to me that this is a very good example of what Parliament intended when it laid down the rules in the Act. I ask the House to accept it.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

In view of the Home Secretary's explanation, one would think that this is a very minor adjustment indeed and that everything in the garden is lovely, but I suggest that the position is far from what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated. If there is any Order that is grossly unfair this is one. I feel that the Home Secretary himself, if only he could speak his personal thoughts, would have strong feelings against the Order.

If the Order is approved in its present form it will do something which I think hon. Members on all sides of the House would strongly deprecate, that is interfere too frequently with the constituencies. In the last review the West constituency was considerably carved up. It is now to be carved up again, and within the next three or four years will have to be carved up yet again if this Order is approved. I do not think that anyone can tolerate that kind of thing.

In his speech on the Motion to take note of the first periodical Reports of the Boundary Commissions, the Home Secretary said: I am not here as spokesman for the Commission. In accordance with the precedent created by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that he thought it right to lay the draft Orders giving effect to the Commission's recommendations without any modification. He followed that precedent, but if he had followed all the precedents created by my right hon. Friend he would have taken the Orders back and looked at them again and had more bites at the cherry. When the Orders were published he might have followed still further the example of my right hon. Friend and had another look at them.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman stonewalled for 18 hours before the Recess and gave nothing away at all. In his speech on 15th December the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said: It is of the highest importance to the health of our Parliamentary institutions that this matter should be kept, as the Act plainly intends it to be, above party politics. Yet for 18 hours the right hon. and gallant Gentleman stonewalled and brought party politics very much into this matter.

I will try to prove what I am saying. Does the Minister realise that in refusing to take the Orders back and have a further look at them he acted, firstly, as spokesman for the Commission, and he brought party politics into this matter and thereby did his utmost to strike a blow against the Parliamentary institutions to which he referred? Some hon. and right hon. Members opposite may smile, but the truth is that, with the exception of the Order relating to Harrow, which we have just discussed, all the adverse effects which have been expounded in the debates on these Orders are against the Labour Party.

Mr. Ralph Assheton (Blackburn, West)


Mr. Popplewell

There is Blackburn. That and Harrow are the exceptions which prove my point.

The Home Secretary also said, when he spoke on the Motion to note the Reports, … we shall be able to discuss any specific change when we come to the relevant draft Order."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1954: Vol. 535, c. 1785–1794.] If that meant anything at all, surely it meant, in the context of the speech, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was prepared to follow a process of reasoned argument and arrive at decisions accordingly, but in not one case has he done so. He has simply acted as spokesman for the Commission on these Orders.

During our debates on these Orders there have been many charges that the effect of them was such that there was every reason to believe that there was political chicanery and jiggery-pokery at work. That has been said more than once in the course of our discussions. Call it what we will, I suggest that up to now the actions of the Home Secretary have confirmed that view. I make no apology for saying that.

It may be that in certain cases the Home Secretary can try to defend himself by saying that it was not right for him to interfere with any of the Commission's recommendations because the Commission had better knowledge than he had and he preferred to accept its views. He cannot say that in this case because he, as a Member of Parliament, represents in part the city to which the Order refers. Therefore his knowledge of the area is superior to that of the Commission, which has never consulted anyone in the area—a point which the House should note—and has not visited the city and personally investigated the matter.

Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)

The hon. Member has used words like "political chicanery" and "jiggery-pokery." Am I to understand that he is a little worried about the Labour Party holding either Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central or Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West?

Mr. Popplewell

I should like to deliver my speech in my own way, to the satisfaction or otherwise of hon. Members.

If the Home Secretary was sincere in his speech on the Motion to note the Reports, now is his opportunity to prove his bona fides. If he does not take this Order back and look at it again, that will prove that he was not sincere. It would appear from the Order that the Commission has done exactly what the Home Secretary indicated. It has looked at the two constituencies and found 47,355 on the register in the Central constituency and 66,586 in the West constituency, according to the new 1955 register. It has then looked at the Benwell ward where there are 10,000 voters and has said, "We shall transfer this ward to the Central constituency from the West constituency. That will make a tidy little sum and we congratulate ourselves on a good job of work."

What is the position? Paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act, 1949, instructs the Commission to take into account the geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency, … It would appear that the Commission, once having got the answer to that sum, thought that it was sufficient. The Home Secretary himself is much more knowledgeable in this direction than the Commission, because he knows that, in arriving at this tidy sum, the Commission has paid no attention to paragraph (6) of the Second Schedule.

From his personal experience the Home Secretary has difficulty in knowing, when travelling up the West or Jesmond Roads whether he is in North, Central or West divisions. It is with the utmost difficulty that he knows whether his own constituency is on both sides of the road or on the right or on the left. Where attention is paid to geographical boundaries, as in this case, it only accentuates the problem. The Home Secretary should not put his seal of authority on this ridiculous proposition of the Commission in the matter of boundaries.

In paragraph 16 of the Report, the Commission says: …we have shaped our final recommendations as far as practicable, having regard to the Rules laid down for our guidance, to meet present and imminent local conditions. The Secretary of State for Scotland said that it was the duty of the Commission to take note of future developments. In both instances it would be difficult to find more glaring cases of where the Commission has deliberately ignored both these considerations.

Any inquiry from the local authority about present or future trends in housing, or even a glance at the statistical table of electors in the specific wards in the last five or six years, would have given the Commission the information necessary to fulfil its obligation under both these Acts. But no, with the blind arrogance of bureaucrats it decided it knew something better, and its answer to the nice, tidy, little sum was arrived at by paying no attention to anything else.

When the last review took place three wards were taken away from the West division in Newcastle. This review takes away another ward and leaves only two wards of the old constituency. If the present proposals go through, the Home Secretary, again with his own intimate knowledge, will know that within the next three or four years the West will have to be carved up again because of the refusal of the Commission to take any note at all of future trends and developments.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows Newcastle's difficulties about land for future development. The city is entirely built up, apart from small plots here and there, except in the Kenton ward, and it is only there that any further real development can take place. The Kenton ward at present has an electorate of 17,368 electors and there are about 1,400 houses now being built. When those houses are complete the corporation has a further scheme to build at least another 1,100 houses, making about 2,500 to be built in Kenton. That is the last land available in Newcastle, and it will mean an additional number of electors of about 6,000 to 7,000.

What does that mean? In the West division there is already an electorate of approximately 57,000 and if we add the additional 7,000 it will be seen that the West division will have to be carved up again, because those figures will be approximately the same as the number in the West division at the present moment. Is there any sense in that type of thing? We will see in a moment how the numbers of electors in other constituencies in the city are decreasing all the time.

If we look at the city as a whole, we see that the wards in the centre are decreasing in density while in the West division the numbers are inreasing. Since 1953, which is only two years ago, we note that the total in the North division, the Home Secretary's constituency, has had a decrease of 2,115 electors. Since the 1950 Election, he has lost 4,867 voters, being a reduction from 56.205 to 51,338, chiefly in the Westgate, Elswick and Sandyford wards. The figures for the Central constituency have gone down in the last two years by 2,115, and since the 1950 Election they have decreased by 3,200. The West division figures have, during the same time, gone up by some 5,900, say 6,000.

With these proposed alterations the same pattern is going to be followed. There is to be a further reduction in the total electorate in the Home Secretary's constituency and a reduction in the electorate of the Central division, while there will be a tremendous increase of some 7,000 in the West division, which means undoubtedly a further carving up in some three or four years' time.

If the Commission had been doing its work correctly, and if the Home Secretary had not been its mouthpiece when these changes were recommended, it would have decided to take into consideration fore-seeable changes in the near future, as indeed was its duty. These changes are actually in the process of taking place at the present time, but the Commission refused to pay any attention to them or it deliberately ignored them. Is it any wonder that there is a feeling that there is political jiggery-pokery at work?

I want to emphasise that these figures indicate that further changes will have to take place within three or four years.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? He has twice made charges of jiggery-pokery and, when such charges are made, he should be specific. Is he making that charge against the Commission or against my right hon. and gallant Friend or against someone else?

Mr. Popplewell

If the hon. Gentleman will only be patient, he will hear, as I develop my speech, in what way that has taken place—and he knows it now.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Will the hon. Gentleman answer my question?

Mr. Popplewell

If the hon. Gentleman will listen to my speech, he will get the answer, and I shall make my speech in my own way.

Undoubtedly in the reasonably near future the corporation will have to make considerable changes in the ward boundaries, and will have to create a new ward. It is not possible to tolerate a position whereby one ward continues with its present electorate of 17,800, which will go up to 23,000 or 24,000, while another ward has an electorate of between 6,000 and 7,000, and others have between 8,000 and 9,000. If the Home Secretary had been acting in a really judicial capacity, from his own knowledge of the city, when he saw these proposals he would have said, "We will have nothing to do with this now; we will wait, at any rate until the corporation makes an alteration in the ward boundaries, because, when those alterations take place, there will have to be further changes."

Is there anyone who does not think there is something behind this? The Joint Under-Secretary of State has his answer. Knowing the particular set-up, the Home Secretary should at least take back this Order and let things remain as they are until those changes in ward boundaries take place. If he felt, however, that changes should take place now, it was the duty of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to request the Commission to make changes that would prevent a further upheaval in the reasonably near future. That would be only common sense.

I shall now offer the Home Secretary a few suggestions which would meet future needs, and I assure him that, if he would take back the Order and adopt these suggestions, his own political future in Newcastle, North would remain the same. The present Order—and this is the answer to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams)—appears to be aimed at making my own constituency, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West, into a marginal one. At present it has a Labour majority of 8,500.

If that is the aim of the Commission, that is political jiggery-pokery. It takes away 10,000 voters in Benwell, which the Tories dare not contest at Election time, and where 80 per cent. voted Labour—it takes 10,000 of those voters away and gives the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) a 20,000 majority instead of a 12,000 majority. If that is the aim of the Commission, it will be disappointed when it sees the results of the next Election, because Labour will still win and I shall be its standard bearer.

In passing, it is interesting to note that the Tory Party has had the utmost difficulty in getting a candidate to stand for the West constituency up to the date of the publication of these changes. However, since the changes have been published, they have got one to accept who had previously twice refused because he knew it was hopeless. Perhaps he now thinks there is a chance. Well, time will tell, and he will get the answer. The present proposal to take Benwell out of the West constituency cuts right across the social and communal life of the area. Public transport, educational services, welfare work, shopping centres, etc., all link Benwell, Elswick and Scotswood together. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South knows it.

Mr. P. Williams

The hon. Gentleman has been arguing that the population of Newcastle, West will increase in the next four or five years. Surely he should now be arguing for a greater change towards Newcastle, Central if he is to argue anything?

Mr. Popplewell

If the hon. Gentleman will contain his soul in patience, he will get the answer to that question in my speech.

Benwell, Elswick and Scotswood have always formed an integral part of the West constituency. They have made the West: they are the West. Ever since there has been a West constituency at all, they have been the heart of it. What justification is there for upsetting that? It was tried at the last review by putting Elswick into the constituency of the Home Secretary, but the people want to go back. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that, on the whole, Elswick people are more interested in the West than in his constituency of the North.

My alternative proposal is that Elswick should be returned to the West and that Benwell should remain with Scotswood and Fenham and the Newburn U.D.C. area. This would give an electorate in the West constituency of about 60,000, and be a losing quantity on the new 1955 figures, against the present proposal of 57,780, which is a gaining quantity. Sandyford, from the North, should be transferred to the Central constituency. Here again the interests of this ward are chiefly linked with Byker and St. Nicholas in the Central constituency. The numbers in the Central, on the new 1955 Register, would be 56,323 against the present suggestion of 56,037. It would still be a losing quantity as its electorate would probably go down by another 2,000 or 3,000.

I do not want to lose Kenton from my constituency, but I suggest that if there is to be any fairness it should be transferred to the North, where it links up closely with the rest of the North, namely, Arthur's Hill, Jesmond and Westgate. That would give the Home Secretary an electorate of 48,700 against his present figure on the 1955 Register of 51,000. It would be a gaining quantity because within the next three or four years his figure of 48,700, with the additional electorate of Kenton, would go up to 55,000, and this would put the four constituencies of Newcastle on a fairly equal basis. Instead, the Home Secretary will be decreasing the number to 51,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne, Central will still lose as well.

The bus services at Newcastle radiate from the centre of the town like the spokes of a wheel. Anyone going to the Kenton area from Scotswood has to take a bus down Scotswood Road, Armstrong Road or Elswick Road through the Central constituency or the North constituency into the centre of the town, change buses and go up through the North constituency into the larger part of the vast Kenton area. There is no cross-town bus service except the No. 2, but that goes to a small part of the Kenton area, Blakelow, and does not touch the greater part of the area. The proposal seems to be perfectly ridiculous.

I urge the Home Secretary to take the Order back. I trust he was sincere when he asked us, in his speech on the Report, to believe that there is a desire to keep the whole matter free from party politics, but to me the whole thing has a very unseemly smell. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not take the Order back with a view to organising the matter correctly, I shall ask my hon. Friends to vote against the proposal.

6.2 p.m.

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

I am the other hon. Member affected by the proposal, and I wish to say a few words in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) and in opposition to the proposal. I want to make it clear that, as my hon. Friend has said, the Commission's proposal adds 10,000 solid Labour votes to my constituency and makes my position pretty well impregnable, and therefore I cannot be accused of grinding an axe in opposing the proposal.

Like most other big cities, Newcastle has experienced since the war, and is experiencing, a very big drift of population from the centre to the perimeter. Most right hon. and hon. Members will have passed through Newcastle Central station at some time or other; it is beside the river in the middle of the ancient, medieval city, whose walls are still there. In the 19th century the city spread out to the east and west of the medieval part. The 19th century Newcastle is very largely my constituency.

The greater part of the accommodation in the area is now becoming slum or substandard housing, and the population from the riverside area is drifting across to the north and the north-west, to the city's periphery, and in some cases it has poured over into the county. The constituency lost 1,000 electors between this year's register and last year's register and 1,000 the previous year.

It seems to me that, with this shift of population constantly going on—indeed, it is increasing all the time—a sensible redistribution of Newcastle would have taken the movement into account and would have tried not only to equalise the present numbers but to have made for some equality of numbers, at any rate for a few years ahead. That has not been done. The Commission says it has done so. In paragraph 16 it says that it has shaped its final recommendations to meet present and imminent local conditions. My chief complaint against the proposal is that the Commission may have met present conditions but by no stretch of the imagination has it met imminent conditions.

In introducing the Order, the Home Secretary mentioned the parity of numbers as between West and Central Newcastle that would be brought about. Before the Royal ink is dry upon the Order the parity will again be upset. Indeed, it is already upset, because more than 300 families in my constituency obtained new houses at about the Christmas period.

In four or five years' time the disparity between the two divisions will be as great as ever, if not greater than it has been. My statement is based upon a very careful analysis of housing trends, housing needs and housing speed. I am sure that if the Commission had gone into the matter with the local authority, as my hon. Friends and I have done, it would have realised that in four or five years' time the disparity will be even greater than it was when it began its work.

This great weakness in the proposal was pointed out by a number of opposers when the Commission's proposal was published in the local Press. The opposers submitted a very good alternative plan which has been outlined by my hon. Friend, a plan which would have taken up the drift of population for four or five years. As far as I am aware, not only was no inquiry held but the opposers did not even receive an acknowledgment of their opposition. The alternative plan is a really good one. I realise that it sounds a little difficult to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who do not know the city, but its great merit is that it would have equalised numbers and at the same time made provision for the shift of population.

As my hon. Friend said, it would, of course, have meant changes in the Home Secretary's constituency. It would not have affected the Conservative prospects in that area. There are, of course, two Conservative Parties in North Newcastle, and I do not really know which one it would have affected. When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's result was announced at the General Election, mine was announced at the same time, and I had the rather unusual experience of being cheered by a very large crowd of his Conservative opponents.

The Commission's proposal has not been opposed by the Newcastle City Council, but, of course, it is a Tory-dominated council.

Mr. P. Williams

There is only one Conservative councillor standing as such on the council.

Mr. Short

The hon. Member for Sunderland, South lives in Newcastle, although he does not represent any part of it, and he knows quite well that if those persons stood as Conservatives they would not be elected. It is only because they disguise themselves as Progressives that they manage to get elected at all.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said, we cannot attach too much weight to the fact that the city council did not oppose the proposal. It is a Conservative council, and the Commission's proposal favours the Conservative Party because it piles up the Labour vote in my constituency.

In view of the nature of the very constructive proposal put forward by the opposers and by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West —a very good suggestion—I appeal to the Home Secretary to take the Order back and have another look at it. This upheaval follows the major upheaval in the constituencies in the city in 1948, and it completely ignores their community aspect.

The Home Secretary has included in his constituency a ward called Elswick. He knows quite well the peculiar configuration of the city and the ground west of Elswick. The streets are abnormally steep and at some times of the year it requires almost a Sherpa Tensing to get up them. Because of the peculiar configuration and the shopping facilities to the west and the community organisations—not only political, but churches and youth organisations—Benwell's interests lie with the Newcastle West area.

Although he has not done so with other Orders, I ask the Home Secretary to take back this Order and have another look at it. He promised my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West and a good many other hon. Members in writing that he would view these proposals with an open mind. So, for the reasons we have put forward, I suggest that he should leave these constituencies as they are. He said, when this debate started before Christmas, that he would favour a longer period before automatic reviews take place. He mentioned periods of 10 to 15 years.

In any case that needs amending legislation, and I suggest that the Boundary Commission be kept in existence, but that it should not make an automatic review, and that constituencies be reviewed only when referred to the Commission by the Government or the local authority. For the reasons given, I ask the Home Secretary to see if he cannot make a more equitable adjustment in the city, or at any rate leave things as they are.

6.12 p.m.

Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

I am not in any way affected by, this boundary change, although I was certainly affected by boundary changes carried out a few years ago. I rise merely to emphasis a point quite clearly made on this side of the House about this proposal, and how unnecessary it seems to be. We are all agreed that there comes a time when differences in the numbers of electors between one constituency and another become so great that it becomes right and important that there should be a review of the boundaries. But in this case it seems quite monstrous that a constituency should be altered twice within a relatively short time when in all probability it might very well soon be altered again.

That is one of the strongest points of the arguments put forward by my two hon. Friends. Anyone knowing the city knows that within three or four years there is bound to be very natural pressure for further revisions to take place because of the wide changes and drifts of population in the city. It is very likely —to put it no higher—that some boundary changes in the city will take place and, if that happens, then the constituencies will have to be altered again.

However, either the Commission, in making its present proposals, should have taken some account of these likely, almost certain, changes, or—I should have thought this equally sensible—the proposals should have been held back to await the wider changes almost inevitable in a matter of three or four years. I hope that on this occasion, whatever else may have happened to other boundary proposals, we shall have some reasoned reply from the Front Bench opposite instead of a mere formal presentation of these Orders with a lack of any argument in response to suggestions from this side of the House.

Objection has been taken to some of the phrases used by my hon. Friend. Surely if neither the Home Secretary nor the Joint Under-Secretary replies to the arguments from this side, we are left with all these suspicions of the reasons that might have prompted the Commission to put forward these proposals. I suggest in this case that the right hon. Gentleman or his hon. Friend should reply to the very strong case put forward, and urge the Commission to review its proposals and to take account of the future changes, or delay proposals until the wider changes affecting the whole city are brought forward in three or four years' time.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I want to support my hon. Friends for several reasons. These are not Orders affecting only the constituencies covered by them. These are matters affecting the electorate at large and democracy. It is quite clear that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) is going to contribute to the discussion and I am anticipating him. He would not have bobbed up and down if he had not intended to speak later.

I differ from the hon. Member and from my hon. Friends. I am not going to attack this Order on the ground of jiggery-pokery, but it was significant that the Joint Under-Secretary was surprised that anyone should oppose this Order if it was not patently to his political disadvantage. I oppose this Order because I do not like it. It is improper and unnecessary. I rise also to give the right hon. and gallant Gentleman an opportunity to speak again, as he must.

One hon. Member pointed out that most of these speeches are reported for the local Press. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be reported in the "Newcastle Journal." He had better make a better speech. It will be difficult for the "Newcastle Journal" to make anything of what he has said so far. He has been peremptory, because he wants these things pushed through, even disregarding constituency interests.

I oppose these Orders, because I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) in protesting at the way the Government is dealing with these Orders. I was here for much of the time that we spent discussing the previous Orders and again this afternoon. The Joint Under-Secretary is worse than the Home Secretary. If he is asked about anything, he says, "How can I reply? I do not know what was in the mind of the Commission. I cannot answer." If he is pressed, he says, "Of course we support these Orders on their merits, but we are supporting the Orders, because they are recommended by the Boundary Commissioners."

We have had no explanation, except for some brief references to some figures by the Home Secretary. He knows from his experience that no one is worse in dealing with figures than he is. He assured the House that he was abolishing the subsidy on eggs and ended with a larger subsidy than when he began. When he talks about figures, he does not deal with figures in Newcastle but with figures in two constituencies out of four.

We are concerned about the effect on Newcastle and the effect on the political parties and political life in Newcastle. What impresses me about Newcastle, West is that it is a constituency in a great municipality where, within a few years, boundaries are to be altered three times. Why? I think on reflection that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South is going to support us.

Mr. P. Williams

If the hon. Member is trailing his coat, I had no intention of speaking, but I have now. I think that the hon. Member may find that he is being wrong again.

Mr. Willey

The hon. Gentleman fought the 1951 Election in Sunderland and knows the difficulties we then had. I have nothing to say in favour of the past Administration so far as this business goes. We had a boundary change that was not operative, and we had to start tearing up the electoral registers. His party and my party in both constituencies had to organise for the Election and then organise again. We had a by-election in which the hon. Member did rather well. We will redress that at the next Election.

We had difficulties because we fought on the basis of the old boundaries, and then we had the business of changing boundaries in the municipality, a very difficult problem because the boundaries are not obvious. The hon. Gentleman knows that there are difficulties in Sunderland to this day because people do not know in which constituency they live. They have other reasons for approaching me, but occasionally they approach me because they do not know in which constituency they live.

Newcastle, West is a constituency in which many of the electorate cannot have an interest because the boundaries have been changed so often. It is clear from what has been said by my hon. Friends that fairly soon there will be an alteration of municipal boundaries. One of my hon. Friends spoke of a ward with 17,000 people. It is obvious to anyone except the Commissioners and the Home Secretary that that state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. I do not know what the representation of that ward is.

Mr. Popplewell

Three Tories.

Mr. Willey

That ought to be rectified. We will have ward changes and then, consequential upon that, there will be further changes in the Parliamentary boundaries. We shall get one of the Orders which are introduced periodically to alter the boundaries to accord with the new ward boundaries.

Mr. P. Williams

The hon. Gentleman has again trailed his coat. There have been remarks by him about jiggery-pokery. I now understand that he is making an accusation against the Boundary Commission of political jiggery-pokery. Is that so?

Mr. Willey

I advise the hon. Gentleman to make his speech in due time. I know that the hon. Gentleman was rejected by the electorate in Newcastle and that he bears a grudge against them. The good sense shown by the electorate in Newcastle will shortly be followed by good sense being shown by the electorate—

Mr. Williams

Of Sunderland, North.

Mr. Willey

—of Sunderland. South. Of course I am criticising the Commission. I have not said that I think that this amounts to jiggery-pokery. It amounts to no more than stupidity and ignorance of local conditions and a failure to pay attention to local opinion and local circumstances. Newcastle has had a pretty raw deal. There is a feeling among people in the area that they have not been very well treated.

It is clear that there will be a redrawing of the ward boundaries fairly soon and, consequently, a further redistribution, with all the bad effects that that has upon the local parties. Hon. Members know that constituency parties depend upon the ward parties. It is enervating democracy to keep upsetting the parties all the time. Here, necessarily and unavoidably, they will be upset because soon there is bound to be a redrawing of the ward boundaries. Why further aggravate the position now by upsetting the relationship between the ward parties and the constituency parties?

A second factor is that there has been housing development. It is no use drawing boundaries just for the moment. That is accepting what most of us object to—a disregard for local political life and saying, "You need not worry; we will upset you again in a year or two."

There is a further factor which impresses me more than the other two. I do not know whether the Home Secretary knows where the No. 2 bus runs. He is defending these Orders in general but not in particular, allegedly on their merits, but here we have a disregard for the communications in the town. No recognition is shown of the difficulties which people may have in getting to polling stations. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South must have heard of Scotswood Road and the community in that area. It should be regarded as a community. In political life we want people organised in that way. We do not want these unnecessary artificial distinctions and divisions.

I do not press the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on the subject of his own constituency although he ought to have said something. It is a remarkable fact that the electorate in his constituency is declining but nothing is done about it. No doubt he would say, "How could I reply; I do not know what was in the minds of the Commissioners." This is what was in the minds of the Commissioners. They said, "This is the Home Secretary's constituency; we know what a testy fellow he is; we heard about him when he was at the Ministry of Food; we had better let sleeping dogs lie and leave him alone." Of course, I do not know; that is surmise. Unless we can be better informed, what guide have we?

I say to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that here is the one example about which he can speak from direct personal experience. He knows Newcastle. He is well liked personally in Newcastle. We know that for the time being we must have a Conservative Member in Newcastle until we can redress the balance there. If we are to have a Conservative we do not mind having a Liberal masquerading as a Conservative. We know that the Tories had to gel: a neutral like him to bring together the two parties in Newcastle. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has done something to bring them together by his charm.

He has ready access to political public opinion in Newcastle. He is fairly well conversant, I hope, with the geography of the district and with the ward boundaries. I should have thought that he could have said, "I promised the House some time ago that I have an open mind about this; I have not been very good with the House about it in fact I have been pretty frightful; so far I have said that we must support the Commissioners whatever they do, but in this case I cannot avoid being driven to the conclusion by my own personal political experience in Newcastle that I should take back the Order for reconsideration so that a proper opportunity can be given to the people of Newcastle to express their point: of view."

6.29 p.m.

Mr. Foot

I confess that I am slightly baffled by part of the argument that has arisen. If it is not proper for people in Harrow, Fulham, Plymouth, Southampton, or wherever it may be, to have answers from the Government to explain why these measures are being adopted, I do not see why the people of Newcastle should have an explanation. For that reason, I am surprised at the optimism shown by some of the hon. Members for Newcastle and Sunderland constituencies. They may have hoped that the sound barrier would be broken on this occasion because the Minister himself comes from Newcastle. Indeed, the Minister raised our hopes in the few remarks on this Order which he made at the beginning.

I am not sure if I got it down absolutely accurately, but I think the Minister said something like this: that on this Order the Boundary Commission had made an ideal application of the principles under which it was supposed to act. I think that those were roughly his words. If that is the case, if the Minister regards this as a perfect example of the Boundary Commission applying its principles accurately and properly, I think that we are entitled to a full explanation from him as to how he thinks the details have been applied in this instance.

However, in order to put the Minister in a good mood for making a reply, I would like to say something on this question of jiggery-pokery as applied to the Newcastle Constituency. These words were mentioned in some of the earlier debates which we had, and I should like to make my position clear. I am not accusing the Minister or the Joint Under-Secretary of jiggery-pokery concerning the individual Orders. I am not suggesting that the Minister or the Joint Under-Secretary looked through the detailed Orders of the Commission, including this one which we are now discussing, and said, "I am going to take out this one to operate in this particular fashion, because I think that it will suit the political advantage of the Conservative Party."

I am not making any such charge, and no one could possibly make such a charge, because the Minister has not distinguished between any of the Orders. It would therefore be quite improper for anyone to accuse the Minister of having discriminated between one Order and another. The charge of jiggery-pokery does not arise in that way. It arises from the fact that, when a Boundary Commission improperly alters the figures of county constituencies and borough constituencies without any authority from Parliament and produces results which are advantageous to the party opposite, they should accept holus-bolus such a report without any explanation at all to the House of Commons.

That is where the charge arises, and I entirely exonerate the Minister from having applied methods of jiggery-pokery to this particular case. It is to all the cases that he has applied it, and therefore no one could properly accuse him of having, in the case of his own constituency, done what he was not prepared to do in other cases. It is the acceptance of this whole Report. And the Minister has been quite prepared to say in this case that he regards this as an ideal application of the principles of the Boundary Commission. If he does, I should like to know on the other Orders where it was not such an ideal application—but no doubt we shall come to that when we discuss the other Orders.

In the case of this Order, the Minister says that the Boundary Commission has carried out its duty ideally, and therefore he has accepted its recommendations. Very well, let us look at it. The most important principle raised in the speeches of my hon. Friends from Newcastle on this subject is the issue of the future developments in the area. The argument they put applies, of course, to other constituencies, but here it applies apparently with special dramatic force. It is that in two, or three, or four years' time, owing to the developments which will take place, there will have to be further and perhaps bigger changes, rearranging even the changes which we are supposed to be discussing now. This, of course, is based on the apparent doctrine which the Boundary Commission applied in most cases, that it did not take into account future development.

In the case of Newcastle—and probably the majority of the other Orders which we discussed on a previous occasion, and which have already been accepted—it could be proved conclusively that the Boundary Commission did not take into account imminent developments that would take place. Yet—and other hon. Members have quoted it—we have the very important clause in paragraph 16 of the Commission's Report which states: The full effect of movements from such causes will not become apparent for some years, but we have shaped our final recommendations so far as practicable, having regard to the Rules laid down for our guidance, to meet present and imminent local conditions. I think it is about time that we had from the Government—and there would be no better case than this one on which to give it—an explanation of what the Government consider are proper imminent changes to be taken into account when making these Orders.

I think it a scandal that in all the debates which we have had—and it would have saved time on this Order if we had had an explanation before—at no time has either the Minister or his Joint Under-Secretary defined what is meant by the imminent changes which should be taken into account. So, therefore, at the very least the Minister should describe what he means—or what he thinks the Boundary Commission means—or how he thinks that the Boundary Commission has applied this principle ideally in this case. How many years of development should be taken into account? I am sure that the Minister will deal with this point, because it is one which goes to the whole basis of whether we are to make boundary changes or not.

Is it to be two years, three years, four years, five years? How many years? How can the Minister say that the Commission has applied ideally what are its own regulations or what it claims to be its own regulations—because there is no authority from Parliament—to determine what should be imminent changes? That is all made up by these bureaucrats off the leash. That is what they are, and that is why we have got into such trouble over this Commission—or that is the reason for part of the trouble. The trouble is that the Minister is at the end of the leash as well, But he has escaped with them, and we are not allowed to discuss this. We are not to have an answer about what imminent changes should be taken into account by the Commission, or what the Minister thinks.

Why should not we be told? Why could not the changes in Newcastle be held up for three or four years, which would have prevented all this turmoil and made the changes more satisfactory when they took place? As the Boundary Commission has been acting under this instruction, I think that the Minister should describe to us exactly what period it is proper for the Commission to take into account, and what period he is taking into account in giving his approval to the different Orders. So far, he has not said a word on the subject, although it affects most of the Orders, and obviously it affects this one.

How is it possible for us to judge whether the Boundary Commission has ideally applied this principle, if the Minister will not even discuss this aspect of the matter—though it was of sufficient importance for the Boundary Commission to devote a whole paragraph to discussing this question? The Commission describes how, in particular cases of new towns and the rest, it had taken this question of imminent changes into account. Why should we be shunted off like the people of Newcastle, Plymouth and the rest?

The reason I am opposed to all these Orders, and the way in which it is proposed to push them through this House, is because I think it wrong and a danger to our democracy that people in Newcastle or anywhere else should just be shunted round by a body which is not acting under the authority of Parliament, and which has been proved time and again to have disobeyed the instructions given to it by Parliament. The only remedy in the case of Newcastle, and all the others, is for us to come to this House and debate the Orders. Then the Minister makes a speech of three or four sentences in which he talks about ideal application, and says the Commission has done its job wonderfully well; that this is all that is to be said, and that he is not going to discuss the matter.

This is the only right of protest against this change which is open to the people of Newcastle. Yet the Minister, who represents a Newcastle constituency, will not even say anything about it. It is about time the Minister got up and defended—if he has any defence to offer —the way in which he has been prepared to chop and change the political lives of persons who keep our democracy going. He is so complacent about it that apparently he does not even care to give an explanation. I wonder what his father would have thought about it if we had proposed to chop up Caernarvon Boroughs in the way we are chopping Newcastle about.

I do not expect the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to care a great deal about Newcastle; he has not been there very long. In earlier debates. I said that this kind of boundary operation amounts to a carpetbaggers' charter. We cannot expect the carpetbaggers to be worried about constituencies in which they happen to be merely for one election or another; but to those people who have been brought up in Newcastle, have lived all their political lives in that city and are associated with the wards that are being changed, this is their political life, and they have the right to be treated very much better than this Government have attempted to treat them during these debates.

6.40 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

Perhaps I may speak again, by leave of the House. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) seemed to get a little heated. I do not know why. He seemed to be worried because he did not get any answer to his question. It may be that it is the same question that he has asked on previous occasions, to which he has always got the same answer.

Mr. Foot

I should not have to keep asking if I got an answer.

Major Lloyd-George

He gets the same answer every time because it is the correct answer. He says that I have disposed of the matter in three or four sentences. It would have been better if he had disposed of his last speech in three or four sentences, because there was a great deal of irrelevancy about it. He even brought in the question of Caernarvon Boroughs. I do not know how he can bring in that question; the constituency of Caernarvon Boroughs has been chopped about. It is not the constituency that my father knew.

I am sure that the House will not think me unduly squeamish if I say that I resent some of the observations which have been made in this debate. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) referred to "jiggery-pokery," to which reference has often been made before, but no one has yet had the courage to accuse either me or the Commission of jiggery-pokery. As far as I can gather from the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West his definition of "jiggery-pokery" is anything that makes a Socialist marginal seat even more of a marginal seat. If that happens it becomes a question of jiggery-pokery.

Mr. Popplewell


Major Lloyd-George

It is no good his getting up. I shall make my speech in my own way, and I shall answer his accusation. He has not issued a definite challenge. Is he accusing the Commission or me?

Mr. Popplewell

I am accusing those who are responsible for the set-up which will operate in Newcastle. The evidence is provided by the changes which are to take place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who is responsible?"] Whoever is responsible—and the Home Secretary will judge of that—I am making my accusation today.

Major Lloyd-George

All that the hon. Member is saying is that something that he does not agree with is jiggery-pokery. If that is the case, I am a great supporter of jiggery-pokery. That seems to be the only reason he can give for his charge. He has not yet made a definite statement. Who are the people who are responsible? Is the Commission responsible, or am I? The hon. Member says that the Commission has done something which is not in accord with the action of an independent body; that it has done something for purely political purposes. He is either saying that, or that I, in my position as Home Secretary, have done the same thing. No support of any kind has been brought from that side of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I do not think that it matters, because his remarks will receive their due weight when they are read tomorrow. I know where they will be read with most interest—and that is in Newcastle.

I am accustomed by now to the speeches of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), because I was Minister of Food for some little time. He said, "Of course, I am criticising the Commission." He is perfectly entitled to do so, but practically all the speeches which have been made by hon. Members opposite were in criticism not so much of the Commission as of the Act for which the party opposite was responsible. The hon. Member for Devonport has said that he asked question after question in this matter. He said that the Commission has broken the rules. That has not been proved. I shall not refer to what happened in the High Court, but in no instance has it been proved that a rule has been broken by the Commission. Yet that was the only question which kept us here until 8.30 a.m. just before the Recess.

Mr. Foot

Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will tell me under what Section of the original Act the Commission is entitled to decide for itself in which constituencies it will take imminent development into account and in which it will refuse to do so.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said that it has never been proved that a rule was broken. I would point out to him that a judge in the High Court, when dealing with the case of Hammersmith and Fulham, explicitly stated that Rule 4—in connection with impinging upon the boundaries of another constituency—had been departed from. There was no question about that, and it is therefore not accurate to say that it has never been established that any rule has been broken. I am quite prepared to admit that, apart from that, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is probably right, but that is nevertheless a very important exception.

Major Lloyd-George

The fact remains that the whole debate which took place just before the Recess was based upon the allegation of a misinterpretation of the rules by the Commission. I hope that that question has been disposed of—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It certainly has to a very large extent. It is mostly in the case of the new constituencies that the Commission has taken into account developments arising from the creation of new towns. I shall argue that point later. I am not at the moment in a position to tell the hon. Member for Devonport what would be the appropriate time for which the Commission should take into, account future development.

Mr. Foot

We have been discussing this question for 30 hours.

Major Lloyd-George

It is a pity that the hon. Member's Government did not make some reference to this matter in the original Act. The fact is that the Commission, without explicit instructions, has taken this matter into account.

Mr. Popplewell

In what case has the Commission done so?

Major Lloyd-George

I know that it took it into account in the case which we are now discussing. I do not complain about hon. Members speaking about their own constituencies, but having heard the multiplicity of points which have been raised by so many other hon. Members who are not directly concerned, we must come to the conclusion that the Commission has done a remarkably good job. Some hon. Members opposite seem to think that I should have examined the position of all these constituencies. Hon. Members who have been listening to this debate for the last few hours wilt know what would be involved if the Home Secretary had to sit in his room altering these recommendations. I think that most hon. Members will admit that the Commission has done a very good job, and I absolutely refute the suggestion that it has broken any rules. No case has been put to me to substantiate that.

I have nothing very much to add to what I said about Newcastle in the first instance. I have been told that the Commission has ignored local opinion. The probability is that it ignored local Socialist opinion—because the City Council of Newcastle has not objected to the Commission's proposals. The Labour Party did object, but I think I am right in saying that the Commission acknowledged the proposal they put forward. I think that is so, although the hon. Gentleman says that it is not. It is only fair to the Commission—

Mr. Popplewell

I did not say that.

Major Lloyd-George

This is very important, because accusations of discourtesy have been made.

However, we will come back to this question of Newcastle, and the hon. Gentleman's point about the views of the City Council of Newcastle. On the point which the hon. Gentleman ma de about future development, is it not likely that, if that had been the case, the City Council of Newcastle would have known about it and would have said, "This is a rather silly thing, because the development is going all the other way"? I have sufficient confidence in the City Council of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to know that they would do that, if that had been the case.

I come back to what I said at the beginning, and I will repeat it. This is one of those cases where numerical equality stands out a mile. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) said that this was a ridiculous thing, but the actual fact is that the difference between the electorate of the two constituencies is about 33 per cent. There is a difference of 16,000 in the constituency electorate between Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central. I do not regard that as a small thing.

When Rule 5 was put in for the guidance of the Boundary Commission, Parliament intended something by it, and it is provided in the Rule that regard must be had to the achievement of a figure as near as possible to the figures of adjacent constituencies or that of the average. I can think of no more classic case of carrying out that Rule than this one, because the average figure for England is 57,000, and, as a result of this change, we get a total of 58,000 plus in the one seat and of 54,000 in the other, instead of having a difference of 16,000, which is what we have today.

Mr. Warbey

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has spoken as if Rule 5 contains a principle of numerical equality, but Rule 5 does nothing of the sort. It simply says that the Commission must avoid "excessive numerical disparity." It can only do that by taking into account other considerations.

Major Lloyd-George

In view of some of the representations which the Commission received, I am not surprised at what the hon. Gentleman says, but I repeat that this case is a perfect example of carrying out the rules for which Parliament itself is responsible.

There are two references in the Commission's Report with which I dealt in my opening speech on the first day when we discussed this matter. One is in regard to the time when revision should take place, and the other concerns greater elasticity regarding the numerical rule. All I want to emphasise is that that can only be done by legislation, and I have expressed in my opening speech my sympathy on these two points. It is simply a question of looking, in consultation, I hope, with right hon. Gentlemen opposite and others, at the time-table rule and considering whether it should be five years, seven years or some other term.

I agree that too frequent changes are not good. I appreciate that point fully, but, unfortunately, this is the Act under which we are working, and this is the first time since 1948 that we have had this kind of accusation. I am bound to say, in defence of myself, when people seem to think that we are sitting here and taking not the slightest notice of what people say, that unless I am satisfied that the Commission departed from the rules laid down by this House, I have no other duty but to ask the House to accept the Order.

6.55 p.m.

Mr. Ede

The trouble about using the word "rule," which I admit is in the Act, is that one usually thinks of a rule as something that can be applied absolutely and accurately. It is quite clear that one cannot in this matter get that meticulous accuracy with the ordinary use of the word rule, because it does not apply rules of arithmetic in the usual exact sense which, professionally, I prefer.

Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me? He will perhaps remember that the simple arithmetic, to which he now refers as not applicable under the rules as they stand, was so applicable until he himself altered the law to make it not so applicable?

Mr. Ede

Precisely, and I said so earlier. There was an Act passed before I was Home Secretary, as a result of the Speaker's Conference held under the chairmanship of Mr. Speaker Clifton Brown, which laid down that we were to take this quota, and if any constituency was more than a certain percentage above or below that quota, it had to be dealt with. We had a preliminary Report from the Boundary Commission on that basis, and I think it was almost unanimously agreed in the House that exact mathematical calculations like that produced a result which in a human society was quite unworkable.

Then these rather more vague rules were brought in, in which we found that words like "excessive disparity" and so on are used. There we had a measure of discretion vested in the Commission which it did not enjoy under the previous Act, providing that if a constituency was 30 per cent. above or below the quota—I am speaking from memory—or some percentage like that, that constituency automatically had to be dealt with and could not be accepted as it was.

The complaint that I make is that, in the exercise of this discretion that has been left to it, the Commission in some cases has produced results which this House ought to examine, and which in some cases ought to be thrown out. I say that with every respect to the Commissioners, because they did propose very considerable alterations in my own constituency. I myself made representations; the town council and all the political parties made representations to the same effect. Hearing our objections, the Commission held a public inquiry, and, as a result of that inquiry, revised their original proposals and produced exactly the future constituency for which we asked at the inquiry.

I cannot help thinking myself that, in some cases, and in particular this case of Newcastle, it would have been a good thing if the Commission had held a local inquiry, because the kind of thing which we have heard from the two hon. Members whose constituencies are most concerned — the hon. Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short)—is the kind of thing which I do not think it is reasonably possible to put across in this House but is just the kind of thing that can be dealt with at a local inquiry. The question whether these alterations make internal communications in a constituency—even a borough constituency—very difficult is not one that can easily be judged by the House, but it is a matter which the inspector appointed by the Commission to go to the city or borough concerned can go into and test for himself on the spot.

My main complaint is that only seven local inquiries were held throughout the country. No inquiry was held in this case, and I can think of other cases which we have already discussed at great length, and which will certainly be discussed in the discussions which are still to follow, in which I am bound to say that I think a local inquiry would have been well justified. Even if the result produced had been the same, the people concerned would have had the satisfaction of being able openly to state their intimate objections to the scheme and of having them considered.

I listened to what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had to say, and I cannot imagine that the Commissioners were gifted with such powers of prophecy that they could foresee that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was going to make the right hon. and gallant Gentleman Home Secretary by the time this debate took place in this House. I am quite sure that it was nothing in that direction which led the Commissioners to make these proposals.

These proposals are among the things that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has inherited, and all the effective action in connection with them was taken in the time of his predecessor. Whether his predecessor, who was a pretty good hand at arguing a bad case, would have thought that one or two of these were beyond his capacity is not for me to say, but I think that in this case an inquiry on the spot might well have produced a different result.

I am convinced from my knowledge of the area that the constituency which has been marked out for my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West is, geographically speaking and having regard to its size and shape, an almost impossible one for a man to work in a city of the build-up of Newcastle. For

these reasons, I shall advise my hon. Friends to vote against this Order.

Question put: —

The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 226.

Division No. 22.] AYES [7.3 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Gower, H. R. Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Hornoastle)
Alport, C. J. M. Graham, Sir Fergus Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Gresham Cooke, R. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Grimond, J. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Armstrong, C. W. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Hall, John (Wyoombe) Maude, Angus
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Hare, Hon. J. H. Maudling, R.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C
Baldwin, A. E. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Medlicott, Brig. F.
Barber, Anthony Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macolesfield) Mellor, Sir John
Barlow, Sir John Hay, John Molson, A. H. E.
Beach, Mal Hicks Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Moore, Sir Thomas
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Heath, Edward Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Higgs, J. M. C. Neave, Airey
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Nicholson, Godtrey (Farnham)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Birch, Nigel Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Nield, Basil (Chester)
Bishop, F. P. Hirst Geoffrey Nugent, G. R. H.
Black, C. W. Holland-Martin, C. J. Oakshott, H. D.
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Hollis, M. C. Odey, G. W.
Bossom, Sir A. C. Holt, A. F. O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Boyle, Sir Edward Horobin, I. M. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Orr-Ewing Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Sir Gurney Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Osborne, C.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Page, R. G.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Perkins, Sir Robert
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Peto, Brig C. H. M.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Hurd, A. R. Peyton, J W. W.
Bullard, D. G. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Pickthorn, K. W M
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Pitman, I. J.
Burden, F. F. A. Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Pitt, Miss E. M
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hyllon-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Powell, J Enoch
Campbell, Sir David Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L
Cary, Sir Robert Jennings, Sir Roland Profume, J. D.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Raikes, Sir Victor
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Ramsden, J. E.
Colegate, W. A. Jones, A. (Hall Green) Rayner, Brig. R.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Kaberry, D. Renton, D. L. M.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Robertson, Sir David
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lambert, Hon. G. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lambton, Viscount Robson-Brown, W.
Cr[...]h, R. F. Lancaster, Col. C. G Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Langford-Holt, J. A. Roper, Sir Harold
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Leather, E. H. C. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Russell, R. S.
Davidson, Viscountess Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Deedes, W. F. Lindsay, Martin Sandys, Rt. Hon D.
Donaldson, Cmdr. G. E. McA. Linstead, Sir H. N. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Drayson, G. B. Llewellyn, D. T. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Scott, R. Donald
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Duthie, W. S. Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Sharples, Maj. R. C.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M. Lockwood. Lt.-Col. J. C. Shepherd, William
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Errington, Sir Eric Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Fell, A. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Snadden, W. McN.
Finlay, Graeme Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Soames, Capt. C.
Fisher, Nigel McAdden, S. J. Speir, R. M.
Fietcher-Cooke, C. McCallum, Major D. Stanley, Capt Hon. Richard
Ford, Mrs. Patricia McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S Stevens, Geoffrey
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) McKibbin, A. J. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Gammans, L. D. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Garner-Evans E. H. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Storey, S.
Glover, D. Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Godber, J. B. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Studholme, H. G.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Macmillan Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Summers, G. S.
Sumner, W. D. M. Turton, R. M, Wellwood, W.
Sutcliffe, Sir Harold Vane, W. M. F. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Taylor, William (Bradford, N.) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Tooting, W. Vosper, D. F. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P, L. (Hereford) Wade, D. W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone) Wills, G.
Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Walker-Smith, D. C. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.) Wall, P. H. B. Woollam, John Victor
Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Tilney, John Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Touche, Sir Gordon Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Wakefield.
Turner, H. F. L. Watkinson, H. A.
Acland, Sir Richard Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Nally, W.
Adams, Richard Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Albu, A. H. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oliver, G. H.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Orbach, M.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Oswald T.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Hamilton, W. W. Owen, W. J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C R. Hannan, W. Padley, W. E.
Awbery, S. S. Hardy, E. A. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Bacon, Miss Alice Hargreaves, A. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Baird, J. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Palmer, A M. F.
Bartley, P. Hastings, S. Pannell, Charles
Bing, G. H. C. Hayman, F. H. Pargiter, G. A.
Blackburn, F. Healey, Denis.(Leeds, S.E.) Parker, J.
Blyton, W. R. Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Pearson, A.
Boardman, H. Herbison, Miss M. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hewitson, Capt. M. Porter, G
Bowden, H. W Holman, P. Price, J. T. (Westhougton)
Bowles, F. G. Holmes, Horace Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hoy, J. H. Probert, A. R.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hubbard, T. F. Proctor. W. T
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Pryde, D. J.
Burke, W. A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Rankin, John
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Reeves, J
Callaghan, L. J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Carmichael, J. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Champion, A. J. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Chapman, W. D. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Chetwynd, G. R. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Clunie, J. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Coldrick, W. Janner, B. Ross, William
Collick, P. H. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Shackleton, E. A. A.
Collins, V. J. Jeger, George (Goole) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jeger, Mrs. Lena Short, E. W.
Cove, W. G. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S) Johnson, James (Rugby) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Crosland, C. A. R. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Skeffington, A. M.
Daines, P. Jones, Jock (Rotherham) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, J.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Keenan, W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Kenyon, C. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Snow, J. W.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Kinley, J. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lee, Frederick (Newton) Sparks, J. A.
Deer, G. Lewis, Arthur Steele, T.
Delargy, H. J. Lindgren, G. S Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)
Dodds, N. N. Logan, D. G. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Driberg, T. E. N. MacColl, J. E. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Dugdale, Rt Hon. John (W. Bromwich) McGhee, H. G. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McInnes, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) McLeavy, F. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mann, Mrs. Jean Thomson. George (Dundee, E.)
Fernyhough, E. Manuel, A. C. Thornton, E.
Fienburgh, W. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A Timmons, J.
Finch, H. J. Mason, Roy Tomney, F.
Follick, M. Hellish, R. J. Turner-Samuels, M.
Foot, M. M. Messer, Sir F Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Forman, J. G. Mitchison, G. R. Viant, S. P.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moody, A. S. Wallace, H. W.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Morgan. Dr. H. B. W. Warbey, W. N.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N Morley, R. Watkins, T. E.
Gibson, C. W. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Weitzman, D.
Glanville, James Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Gooch, E. G. Mort, D. L. Wells, William (Walsall)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Moyle, A. West, D. G.
Grenfell, Rt Hon. D. R. Mulley, F. W. Wheeldon, W. E.
Grey, C. F. Murray, J. O White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W Williams, Ronald (Wigan) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Wigg, George Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Wilcock, Group Capt. CAB Williams, W. R. (Droylsden) Wyatt, W. L.
Wilkins, W. A. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.) Yates, V. F.
Willey, F. T. Willis, E. G.
Williams, David (Neath) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham,C.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Blenkinsop.


That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November. 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

7.12 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Nottinghamshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order deals with Nottinghamshire, and I will explain briefly what it does.

It first abolishes the constituency of Broxtowe. It creates a new Ashfield county constituency, consisting of the urban districts of Eastwood, Kirkby in Ashfield, part of the rural district of Basford, now in Broxtowe, and the urban district of Sutton in Ashfield, now in Mansfield. It transfers two urban districts, Mansfield Woodhouse and Warsop, to Mansfield from Newark and Bassetlaw respectively. It adds part of Basford rural district, now in Broxtowe, to Rushcliffe, transfers the Hucknall urban district from Broxtowe to Nottingham, North and the West Bridgford urban district from Rushcliffe to Nottingham, South, and it re-arranges the Nottingham constituencies.

The effect on electorates is as follows, in round figures: the Bassetlaw constituency, with 64,900, becomes 57,500. Broxtowe, with 58,600, disappears, and the new Ashfield constituency has 60,300. Mansfield's 63,900 will become just over 55,000 and Newark's 63,000 will be just over 51,500. Rushcliffe's 61,400 becomes 54,100, while Carlton remains exactly as it is. In the City of Nottingham, the Central Division electorate will go from 48,900 to 59,700. The East division had just over 52,000; there will now be 61,000 in the new Nottingham, North constituency. Nottingham, North-West, with 62,400, becomes Nottingham, South with 63,200, while Nottingham, South, with 49,000, becomes Nottingham, West, with 62,000.

Nottingham was one of the boroughs which, in 1948, were given one more seat than the Boundary Commission recommended. The Commission recommended that there should be three seats for Nottingham, which gave an average electorate of 69,342. In the event, Nottingham was given four seats, and that made the average electorate 52,000 almost exactly. Nottingham's average electorate per constituency is still rather low, being just over 53,000. The general effect of these changes is to increase this average to 61,500. The average electorate of the county constituencies is rather high, 61,500, and should be reduced, as a result of these recommendations, to almost exactly 56,000.

The main objection to these changes is, so far as I have been able to understand, that they are contrary to Rule 4, which deals with the subject of conforming with local government boundaries. The answer is that there is elasticity in most of these rules, and even in the numerical rule. The Commission are enabled to depart from it in certain circumstances. Rule 5 allows the Commission to depart from Rule 4, if it seems desirable to them to do so, in order to avoid excessive disparity between electorates.

Whether any disparity is excessive must be a matter of opinion and judgment, but may also depend on the peculiar circumstances of the individual case. It seems a little difficult to disagree with the Commission that it is entitled to regard as excessive a discrepancy of 16,000 between Bassetlaw and Nottingham, South.

Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)

What is the comparison between this excessive disparity and the disparity with the electoral quota? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposing to deal with that point?

Major Lloyd-George

Hon. Members ought to be aware that the basis on which the Commission proceeded was exactly the same as on the previous occasion. There has been no difference in their approach this time from that of the time before.

The average electorate is 56,000 and the quota is about 56,500. That does not seem to be very far out, by and large. I think we all agree that a disparity of 16,000 between a county constituency and a borough constituency is fairly excessive. Generally speaking, the Commission was right in principle in taking the view that it is wrong for the electorates of borough constituencies to be substantially below those of the county constituencies in the same county.

It is hard to see what remedy, other than that which it recommended, the Commission could possibly have applied without directly reversing Parliament's previous decision. On the previous occasion the Commission recommended three seats and Parliament decided on four, I think that the Commission is right in saying that it had no right to upset the decision of Parliament. It was, therefore, driven back to this distribution, which means that it must make use of Rule 5.

One either gives Nottingham no more than three seats—which the Commission quite rightly says it cannot do—or one gives the county a seventh seat, which I think it will be agreed the figures do not justify. Were that done it would reduce the average electorate of the geographical county of Nottingham from 58,000 to 52.9 thousand. The average for the 511 proposed English constituencies is 56,564.

It is a very difficult case, and I feel that the House will have sympathy with the Commission. I feel that, on the figures, Nottingham could have managed with three Members quite well, but Parliament having decided that it should have four the Commission is placed in the position in which it must either go against the decision of Parliament, which no one expects, or else give seven seats to Nottinghamshire. I therefore commend the Order to the House as the best solution of this difficulty.

7.22 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)

I shall try to be as quick as possible, and perhaps the quickest way is to begin by making some comment on what my right hon. and gallant Friend has said. I will begin by endeavouring to answer what he said.

I am not quite sure that I got down exactly right all the figures which he gave about the sizes of the constituencies as they now are and as they would be under the Orders, but I think I have got them right enough. I have done my best to examine the numbers of the constituencies as they were five years ago, as they were at the last Election, as they are now, as they would be under the Orders, and as they would be as population and housing move, without the Orders. I have tried to examine them in all those ways.

I hope the House will be sure that I am honest enough, and will be inclined to think my arithmetic good enough, to take my word when I say that, however one examines the figures, I do not think that one can find that it was necessary to make any alteration, let alone this one under the rules about getting numbers as near even as one can—as near even as one reasonably can, although I do not quote the Statute exactly. That, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) pointed out in regard to the last Order, is not a matter reducible to exact arithmetic, but what we can tell about exact arithmetic is that, when that rule was exactly arithmetical, it then allowed for a tolerance of 25 per cent. plus or minus, above or below the average figures, or quota, or norm, or—a word I never understand—"median." The House then found that that was too tight. It decided that 25 per cent. up or down was too tight, and, on the initiative and under the aegis of the right hon. Gentleman opposite who, if I remember rightly, was the Minister then responsible, the House decided—I think with general unanimity—against the 25 per cent. rule as being too tight.

That decision landed us in the position of not being able to prove arithmetically that the Commission has broken the rules either generally or particularly. It landed us in that position because Rule 5 must be read in the light of Rule 4, Rule 4 in the light of Rule 3 and so on. The arithmetical rule is no longer 25 per cent. but, whatever it is, we know that the tolerance must be something more than 25 per cent. I hope everyone will agree on that. I do not honestly think anyone can have any doubt, and I am sure that my right hon. and gallant Friend will not contest what I have said. Upon that reading of the rules, I think that it cannot be said that it is necessary to alter these seats, or any of these seats, in order to obey the rules.

My second point concerns the question of excessive disparity. Suppose there were a law—it would be a foolish one, but not more foolish than some I have seen passed—that it was illegal to marry—and that registrars, licensed clergymen and others would be acting ultra vires and what they did would have no effect if they did marry—couples where there was excessive disparity in height or excessive disparity in age. [HON. MEMBERS: "Weight."] Anything the House chooses, but those two are quite enough for my purpose. It would be obviously reasonable for a registrar to refuse to marry a gentleman 7 ft. tall to a lady ft. short, but what I think would not be reasonable on the part of the registrar would be if he said, "This lady is 5 ft. 8 in. and the gentleman is 5 ft. 7½ in. That disparity is the wrong way round, and therefore we shall treat it as excessive." That would be a mistake.

I join issue with the people who all this time have been throwing stones at the Commission. I think that the Commission has been doing its work very well, but I think that hon. Members opposite are really cut out from speaking on any particular Order, because they began by taking the false point—and I think that it is now generally agreed that it was a false point—that the Commission was ultra vires—wrong throughout. Their principal legal speaker said that the Commission had paid no attention to the principles on which it should have acted. If one starts with that sort of omnibus "chuck all the bricks through all the windows," it is difficult to argue about how badly smashed each splinter was.

It seems to me, however, that this Order is objectionable on the grounds that, arithmetically, the disparity cannot be argued to be excessive. Secondly, I think that those who have been for putting through all the Orders 100 per cent. have made the mistake of trying to argue as if a disparity were greater because it was in a disagreeable direction. That, I believe, is logically wrong and should not have been done.

I come to the point—for whose benefit is this? Cui bono—to whom does this do good? I agree respectfully, and without in the least wishing to quarrel too much with hon. Members opposite, that it was a mistake when the House in its wisdom—and it had three-line Whips in those days, too, about which we have recently had silly complaints—in the days before this machinery was yet available, although it was certainly just in the offing, proceeded, as was proper, by Bill and ventured by Government Amendment in the course of the passing of the Bill, to say that the large urban conglomerations should have 16 or 17—I have forgotten how many—more seats than the Commission recommended. I think that was a mistake, but whether right or wrong unless the Commission had been wholly wrong, or unless there had been enormous migrations into the great towns in the seven or eight years since the Act was passed, it was bound to happen that there would be difficulties in this Bill about the towns which received that uncovenanted benefit from the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his party.

This is, of course, one of those cases, and it lands us in all sorts of difficulties. It has landed us in a lot of words, some of them very hard words, and who has done the jigging and the poking it would not be particularly valuable to inquire into now, but it would not be difficult to decide.

I think it was true that the county in a sense—if one is going to compare electoral proportions, the county and the borough—had a raw deal. Of necessity, it was by that, and is, rather under-represented, and the city was, and is, rather over-represented. But I do not see that we now put that right by annoying very much two of the county seats without really pleasing anyone. If the county really deserves compensation for having had this bit of bad luck, it has not effectively got it in this instance. Nobody in the county wants it so far as I can find out. Other hon. Members will no doubt speak if I go beyond what is reasonable. In the northern seats it is generally agreed that the Commission's recommendations would, on the whole, tidy things up and give a slight improvement, but I do not think that either those who sit for the northern seats or those lion-hearted men who are prepared to turn them out next time consider that such improvement as the Commission is making in the north of the county is very much here or there, or that they mind very much about it or would mind if it was put off for a few years.

If I am wrong I shall no doubt be corrected by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) or hon. Members representing other northern parts of the county, but that is the impression that I got after cross-examining the local people as carefully as I could. I do not think that we put the matter right if there was—I think there was; maybe there had to be—some anomaly in the redistribution as it was done after the war by doing this; but whether or not there ought to have been, if there was—and there clearly was—some anomaly in the amount of representation enjoyed by the city compared with the amount enjoyed by the county, does it really put it right now to do this, which very much annoys both the county seats concerned, as far as I can make out, and which, as far as I can make out, gives no pleasure to anybody in the city? I may be wrong, but that seems certainly so. In the city generally, there will be one or two people who think that a certain seat may become better from their point of view, but the same is true the other way round for another of the seats, and so there is nothing in that and neither party would wish to take any such point. This is a case where there really, honestly and genuinely is no party advantage at all.

I now come to the seventh seat about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. The county deserves a seventh seat now every bit as much as the city deserved a fourth seat five years ago. The county population is going up and it is going up faster than the city population. If we do this now it is certain that, unless we are going to say to West Bridgford and Hucknall "Look here, not only are we lease-lending you to the city to make comparatively honest women of them while they go on having this uncovenanted extra seat for a bit but, what is more, you will have to stay there," we shall deprive the county of something to which it already has some claim and to which, I bet, in five years' time it will have an irresistible claim, and that is a seventh seat.

I would particularly ask everybody to consider this because I think it is particularly plain in the case of Nottingham. I have been tempted to think that these things come round far too often and that we should have far longer periods. If we have far longer periods which start from a point on which everyone is fairly generally agreed, that is perfectly right. If that is done and things stay right for several years, one can put up with things going a bit wrong for several years and then alter them. But if we start off with the 10 Nottingham and Nottinghamshire seats as they are now, with most people. and certainly the whole of the southern half of the population, disgruntled and thinking that it is wrong, we do not make things any easier by saying "Let us put this off for another 15 years," and we should not effectively do it, because the omnicompetence of Parliament is such that if we passed a statute next year to that effect, I would make a heavy bet that 18 months afterwards there would be a new redistribution Bill providing that the 15-year period should be waived, at least in some circumstances.

Those are my comments on the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I apologise if the things that I am now going to say are not in the logical order in which they should have been, but I think that I am adopting the quickest method of drawing the attention of the House to these matters.

Why do the urban districts so much object to being put into the city? There are all the obvious reasons that everyone always puts up, but it is not from any dislike or controversy between the city and the county. The fact is that there is—I was going to use a word that I should not—a very great river in between West Bridgford and the city, and that makes a difference, and there is a widish green belt between the city and Hucknall. There is a real difference of character. There is a social and geographical difference which, with every respect, cannot be so plainly asserted in most of the other sets of seats concerning which we have discussed Orders.

If we are going to find, as I still think it not wholly impossible that we might, and I still feel sure we should, that there are one or two Orders which the Government on reflection decide not to pass, I am prepared to show—I think I have already gone far to show, not, I hope, with excessive vanity; I have done little more than recite a brief—that this case is at least as strong as any other case in the country.

I do not care what possible tests are taken. If we take it by the test "Does the Order really carry out the legislation?" then I think the Order really does not carry out the intention of the legislation. I think it was clear that the intention of the legislation was that arithmetic should not carry as much weight as the Commission is giving it in this case, because there is excessive disparity in favour of the Order. So I do not think it stands up on that test.

If there is some mathematical anomaly in leaving the thing alone, the second test is "Will it exceed the anomaly and inconvenience and the further slashing into local tradition?" The slashing into local tradition here is very great. I indicated just now that West Bridgford is, possibly, an older community even than Nottingham itself. Hucknall and West Bridgford both have their own social, intellectual and artistic organisation and so on as much as any. Nor is it true that we have not been slashed about already. Already we are in the position where the Basford Rural District Council is cut up into three. I have a bit of it, Broxtowe has a bit of it and Rushcliffe has a bit of it. We say that for this comparatively small mathematical anomaly of 25 per cent. plus or minus to add very greatly to the disadvantage we already have in the way of cutting up local boundaries, by that test too the thing will not do.

My next test is, is the suggestion that the Order should not go through plainly free from partisanship? No one here will think that I am not partisan, but I hope that anyone who has heard me debate will agree that if I am being partisan I say so and if I say there is no partisanship—which I say in my judgment is true—I can see no partisanship in the matter here. As far as I can see, the two parties are fully agreed.

The next test is, would leaving the thing alone cause bad blood between or excite resentment over the county or the borough? I have seen the county authority on this matter at their request, not because I was pushing myself forward, but simply by the accident that mine was the only constituency not affected. I have cross-examined them as carefully as I could. There are people here from the city who will speak if I am misleading the House. My strong impression was that although the opposition which comes to me is county opposition, it would not be wanting in the city. Nor is it forgotten that there have been previous attempts to get West Bridgford to be part of the city—to annexe West Bridgford and also to annexe Hucknall. So, for Parliamentary and other purposes this has been tried before on previous occasions and successfully resisted. My belief is that neither the city nor the county is at all desirous of this Order going through. I do not in the least want to start controversies between the city and the county, but I think that is so.

If there should be one Order not passed, is there a reasonably possible certitude that no one would feel deprived or disappointed by it? Possibly the Tory candidate for South Nottingham, I am told by the calculations of the experts—which usually turn out to be wrong—or the Socialist candidate for Rushcliffe may be disappointed. That is a couple of candidates, and those on opposite sides, so that they cancel each other out. I think we may be as nearly certain on this occasion as is possible that there will be no one to resent what we propose. I think that is true, and if it is not true I am quite willing to apologise for it. I do not go back over the question of the seventh seat for the county because I made that point sufficiently clear in the comments I made on the speech of the Secretary of State.

Lastly—I hope "lastly," because my speech has been long enough; but at any rate I am getting near the end—lastly, or penultimately, is one certain that in doing this we are, not snubbing, but virtually departing from, the view of the Commission? Has one fully understood what the Commission was trying to do and is one taking that into account? There again this is a case where one can feel quite certain. I had marked in the Report of the Commission the passages to read upon which I based that assertion, but I wish to save time. Therefore I will not read them to the House, but, if hon. and right hon. Members will look at the bottom of page 1, at the top and bottom of page 2 and especially the bottom of page 4, they will see that the Commission indicates that it itself has felt it was perhaps doing the wrong thing, although it felt bound so to do by its interpretation of the combination of the rules.

If we read those three passages, we can feel quite certain that the Commission said, "We did a few things which, because of our interpretation of the rules, we thought necessary, but which we felt ought to be undone." I think anyone who reads those three passages with a candid mind will agree that the City and County of Nottingham must be in that presumably very small class. By that test also it seems to me that this Order stands out as deserving very special consideration. I do appeal to my right hon. and gallant Friend that it should have very special consideration.

Although I know I have spoken for too long, I cannot omit to comment on one or two other things which have been said earlier this evening. I think those matters must be in order on this Order, although some of them did not seem to be in order on other Orders: as they were made in the debate some comment must be, I hope, admitted. I thought the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) burst his own case wide open and blew it to blazes when he said that there was really no use discussing these things today as we had already passed half the Orders. He said that every case affects every other case and it was obvious that every Order affects consideration of every other Order. On that argument the Government were bound to do what they have done. On that argument they were bound to decide either to accept the recommendations of the Commission 100 per cent. or to refuse them 100 per cent. That blew the case of the hon. Member and his friends to blazes, but that is not for me to cry over.

I did not realise how strong was the biological influence of James Pig, but the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) said that there was an unseemly smell about this matter. It reminded me that James Pig said it was hellish dark and smelt of cheese, but the hon. Member seems to have smelt something worse than cheese. I think he stuck his head in the wrong place, and there were also reasons why James Pig's nose was not awfully good, much as I admire James Pig in almost all other respects.

Finally—and this really is finally—I think I understand the mind of the Government about this question. I think they have been honestly desirous of getting the whole of this matter as far as possible from the Floor of the House and it is plainly desirable that that should be done. The House has legislated four times since 1944 in an endeavour to do so. On the last occasion—although we need not go back into the question of the large boroughs, which may have been right but which did not make it look right—we were not very successful in getting it away from the Floor of the House when that happened by a Government Amendment to a first-class Bill. I could see the temptation for the Government to say that the only way to make a reality of this method, to get it off the Floor and on to the Commission, was, unless it seemed outrageously wrong, to have its Report accepted there. But I would point out to the Government that we have very little legislation before we consider the Speech from the Throne; but we introduce the Bill to deal with Clandestine Outlawries in order to show our right to take that kind of business before the Speech from the Throne. I am tempted to say that if there were not one Order under the Commission's Report which it would be at least as well to leave unpassed, the House would be well advised to pretend that there was one.

The chance of keeping this Statute in being or getting a better redistribution is diminished if the House has to take this line that either we accept the whole lot 100 per cent. or we do not accept any of the Orders. Therefore I appeal to my right hon. and gallant Friend to consider what I have said. This has no party interest and I am wholly disinterested in it. There is no quarrel between city and county here. The entity which is interested and which is being compensated by it is the county electorate which gets half or a whole Member less; and they are not pleased with it and do not want it. Nobody wants it. If it is conceivable that we should not pass an Order recommended by the Commission under this Statute, then in my submission this is the Order that should not be passed.

7.51 p.m.

Mr. George Deer (Newark)

I should like to thank the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) for making out an excellent case for the reconsideration of this matter. I want to begin by pointing out some of the difficulties which arise here when one discusses the arithmetical position, which was the basis on which the Order was introduced by the Home Secretary. He pointed out that the city had too small an electorate and the county a little too large a one. Then he went on to explain how the Government were justified in upsetting nine constituencies out of 10 in the County of Nottingham in order to redress this particular balance because Nottingham City had a rather small ratio.

But let us take the East Midlands, which covers the five main counties in that area. We cannot discuss Nottinghamshire without some relation to the adjacent counties, and we find that no attention has been paid to the largest constituency or to the smallest. So one begins to wonder how it is that nine constituencies in Nottinghamshire have to be disturbed in order to get this particular result when the largest and the smallest constituencies in the East Midlands are left alone. That is something that must be taken into consideration when we begin to deal with figures on this subject.

I want now to deal with the figures for Nottingham. An average in Nottingham of 53,000 before the change is now being increased to 61,000. But 53,000 is not so far short of the 57,000 which is supposed to be the average figure, and with the growth of the city I am pretty certain that that deficiency would have soon remedied itself. On the other hand, the county, with an average of 61,000 before the change, is not much above the 57,000 ratio.

Four seats with an average of 53,000 and six county seats with an average of 61,000 make a total average over the whole county of 58,000, only 1,000 above the general average. Yet it is proposed to disturb nine out of the 10 constituencies to remedy this position. suggest that the case put forward by the hon. Member for Carlton must be considered if the Government are not merely to rubber stamp the recommendations of the Commission.

I want to say at once that I am not making any charges of political interference. The Labour Party in the East Midlands did not put forward any alternative proposals. It supported the county authorities and the city in their claim for the maintenance of the status quo. If there had been political interference the seat of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Redmayne) would not have been imperilled. The exchange of West Bridgford for Kimberley is not a very good one for him. A large suburban area of Nottingham is taken from him and in exchange he gets a mining and steel area. That imperils his position.

In the City of Nottingham some of the seats with very narrow majorities will have good majorities under the new scheme, and some which had comfortable majorities may become marginal seats now. Even so, I think the margin will be on our side, so that I am not putting before the House any suggestion of a sinister plot to increase Tory representation in Nottingham. I do not think that at all.

Having said that, I want to come to the point where the county council objects to the two areas of Hucknall and West Bridgford being associated with the city for Parliamentary purposes. That was never thought of when we originally set up the present scheme of things. I can understand those two urban authorities fearing that this is the first step in their absorption in the city, though it is difficult to understand that in view of the relationship between city and county, which has been pretty good. As a matter of fact, on the question of municipal boundaries we have had one of the very few examples of a county council and a city council bringing an agreed Measure before this House for the adjustment of boundaries. That does not happen often, but it happened quite recently in Nottingham.

There is another point which I think we must take heed of and that is that Nottingham—and I do not want to dwell upon this at any length because my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith) will have something to say about it later in this debate—has been very busy adjusting its own municipal ward boundaries, and when the present proposals are carried out there will have to be a second bite at the cherry, with Nottingham altering its municipal boundaries again. That is a good reason why we should have left it to Nottingham first to adjust its own boundaries in its own way so as to get that sort of equality that is desired and largely agreed upon by the council before dealing with Parliamentary boundaries.

I want to mention how that has been done. The county council and the urban district council have received scant courtesy and consideration from the Commission, because if ever there was a case for an inquiry surely this was one. First they were rebuffed by the Commission and then they were told that the Home Secretary could not see a deputation representing those bodies because the Orders had already been laid in this House. I think that the county council has had a raw deal.

I want to deal with another point. My argument in favour of maintaining the status quo is based upon the fact that in Nottinghamshire great industrial developments are taking place. One large pit was recently opened, another is being sunk, and a number of existing pits are being altered to such an extent that there will be greater productive capacity than ever before. That means that what we are doing now will have to be looked at again at some future date, because progress by the coal industry in Nottinghamshire will mean that more people will come to live there, which, in its turn, will have its effect on the electorate.

There is only one personal point I want to raise, and I am bound to raise it. To reduce the electorate of Newark from 63,000 to 51,000 is unreasonable. Since I have represented Newark I have had no complaints that I could not look after the 63,000 voters in my constituency. It is proposed to take the Urban District Council of Mansfield Woodhouse from me—a council with which I have been on very good terms. It is proposed to place it in an adjoining division.

I want to make it quite clear that it will get just as good a treatment from its future Member as it got from me, if not better treatment. I make no complaints on that score. But the Urban District Council of Mansfield Woodhouse, which is being taken from the Newark Division, has as much community interest with the colliery villages in the area of the South-well Rural Council as those in the area into which it is going.

The case put forward by the hon. Member for Carlton is a strong one. If ever there were a case in which we should not merely accept automatically the Commissioners' decision, this is it. Without any party bias and any antagonism whatever, I suggest that if the Minister looks into the matter in a judicial and reasonable way he will find that there is a case for the whole of the Nottinghamshire alterations being taken back for further consideration.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I do not intend to detain the House for very long, but I want, if I can do so without giving him offence, to express my thanks to the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) for the way in which he put what is, I believe, an unanswerable case about this Order.

In 1953 the City of Nottingham had 212,000 electors. If we give it three seats, we have an average of 70,000 for each seat, which everyone would admit is too high. If we give it four seats, it has 53,000 electors per seat, which is not very much below the average for the whole country, and, in fact, would have passed muster under the first scheme which was considered in the 1945–50 Parliament.

In order that the average for a borough seat shall be higher than the average for the county seats in the same county, the Commissioners bring into the City of Nottingham the urban districts of West Bridgford and Hucknall. As the hon. Member for Carlton said, West Bridgford is divided from the city by a river, and the bridges across the river at that point do not provide an easy means for getting people from West Bridgford into that part of Nottingham with which they are to be associated politically.

As for Hucknall, as the hon. Member for Carlton also said, between the part of the City of Nottingham with which it is to be associated and itself there lies a part of the green belt. Everyone who has had an opportunity of visiting Nottingham and studying it knows the care which has been taken by the city to ensure that there shall be a reasonable arrangement of that kind. After all, beautiful as green belts are, one thing which they do is to divide one community from another. In fact, they are meant to do that and if they do not do it they have not made very much of a success.

It is true that if we retain four seats for the city and six for the county we get an average, in this one case, in which the city has smaller electorates than the adjoining county but, after all, as has been hinted by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Deer) in his speech, most of the county seats are themselves made up of comparatively compact mining villages. I do not think the difficulty which is to be found in some counties in connection with the distribution of population tells as heavily in Nottingham.

Mr. Pickthorn

I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman cycle around my constituency.

Mr. Ede

But the hon. Member's constituency is one which is not being touched.

Mr. Pickthorn

The others, too, are very big.

Mr. Ede

I am not denying that they are big, but a big village is an easier thing to represent than an area in which there is a large number of small family farms involving a great deal of travelling and a great deal of collecting the community together.

I cannot understand why no inquiry was held in this case. The demand for an inquiry was so unanimous throughout all the villages in the county that one would have thought that it would have been conceded almost as a right. I admit that the Commission has a discretion, but I should have thought that the weight of opinion represented by those who made application for an inquiry was something which should have received strict attention.

It should also be noted that no reply was given to the request for an inquiry. Right up to the time that the Commission's final proposals were presented to the House the people asking for an inquiry had no answer as to whether one was to be held or not. I know that this has happened in many cases, but in my view this is the strongest case which can be presented in which one can ask for some explanation of why no inquiry was held. This is the biggest rearrangement which has been made in any county. It disturbs every constituency in the county except one. Nine out of 10 constituencies are disturbed. Nearly everybody concerned, and certainly everybody who was being moved very much, asked for an inquiry. I should have thought that it was one of those cases in which it could be overwhelmingly contended that an inquiry should be held and local people given an opportunity of explaining why they desire to remain as they are.

Another point has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark. I am told that an inquiry has been held into a new scheme of wards for the City of Nottingham. I understand that agreement has been reached. It is not to be brought into operation until June of this year, I am informed, and I suppose that that is so that the next municipal elections can take place on the old wards. As soon as that election is over, no doubt the new wards will come into existence and then the Boundary Commission will undoubtedly submit a new scheme for the city constituencies so as to align the new constituencies with the new borough wards. That is something which inevitably happens. We shall then have another set of proposals for the City of Nottingham placed before us.

I should have thought that in view of all those considerations, which I have no. doubt will be emphasised by those of my hon. Friends who represent the County and City of Nottingham, this would be an Order which, without any loss of face by the Government, could be withdrawn. I hope that the case so massively put forward by the hon. Member for Carlton—and I think that this is the first time I have ever managed to agree with anything he has said in the House; but on this occasion it has been said so overwhelmingly that it almost takes my breath away—will have due weight with the Government and that they may find it possible to withdraw this Order and leave Nottingham, county and city, as it is until the wards in Nottingham City have been revised.

8.11 p.m.

Mr. Norman Smith (Nottingham, South)

My right hon. Friend has precisely indicated the main reason why we on this side of the House might hope that the Government would withdraw this Order, even if they do not withdraw any of the others. My right hon. Friend referred to the pending change in the internal ward boundaries of Nottingham. He quite rightly said that the new internal scheme will not take effect until after the May elections.

I want to underline that with something much stronger. It will not be communicated to me, or any of my hon. Friends, or the people of Nottingham, all those most concerned, until after the May elections. However that may be, what is perfectly certain is that, as soon as may be after the poll on 12th May, the Home Secretary will have to refer to the Boundary Commission the commissioner's new scheme for the internal rearrangements of the wards.

Necessarily, there will have to be a second Parliamentary boundary Order. I want to put it to you, Sir, how very unreasonable this is. If the House passes this Order, as I hope it will not—I hope that the Secretary of State will withdraw it; I am sorry he is not here, as I have to deal with the Joint Under-Secretary, with the block and not the butcher—both my friends and his friends in Nottingham will have to proceed to reorganise—

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

My right hon. and gallant Friend has been here steadily since about three o'clock this afternoon and has gone out for only a few minutes.

Mr. Smith

I know that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to some refreshment, so am I, and so is the Joint Under-Secretary. I was pointing out only that it is one thing to deal with the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and this debate has proved that it is quite another thing to deal with the Joint Under-Secretary of State. The difference between the butcher and the block is egregious.

If the House passes this Order tonight, my Nottingham political friends and his will have to go through the motions of reconstituting constituency organisations. That is a very big undertaking. One is dealing with people who, apart from an exception or two, work voluntarily. They are public-spirited people in the Labour Party and in the Conservative Party, and rightly or wrongly all of their time, money, energies, leisure, and everything they have, they put to further a political cause. As the years go by a sense of comradeship develops inside a political organisation. Every hon. and right hon. Member is fully aware of that. What is going to happen?

If the Joint Under-Secretary cannot be influenced by this argument—I know it is asking rather a lot that he should be influenced by any rational consideration—we shall have to reconstitute our constituency organisations now, and in June, or thereabouts, go through all those melancholy motions again, reorganising for the second time. Not only the Labour Party, but equally the Conservative Party in the Nottingham constituencies will be affected.

It is really too bad; and the situation is made worse, because the commissioner could, if he liked, have completed his job before he did. I have evidence here, a letter from him which I am not supposed to possess, but do possess—it is dated 9th November. He proposed to hold up publication of this scheme until after the May elections. This is treating the Nottingham people of both parties pretty roughly, and if the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department were not totally impervious to argument I should be confident that what I am now pleading could not fail to reach receptive ears, and that he would say "This is rather bad. You and the people in Nottingham have been in suspense ever since last May, when the Commission's interim Report appeared, and have to remain in suspense until next June, which is 13 months of uncertainty." Instead we have this business of twice reconstituting the constituency organisations.

If he will not listen to that argument, and I find it awfully difficult to think he will not, I will use another that I know will strongly appeal to him. If he would drop this Order and revert for the time being to the constituency boundaries as they are, I can promise him that a snap General Election on the Budget would give his party certainly one seat and possibly two. I will make a present of that.

On the other hand, if he insists on this Order, his party, in my considered opinion, may lose one seat and certainly will not gain any. It is to his political advantage, if his party contemplates an early General Election, to leave Nottingham as it is for the simple reason that there is taking place in Nottingham a very substantial migration of population out of the centre of the city to a housing scheme on the perimeter.

The political position in Nottingham is that in one constituency there is a Labour majority of 15,000, while in the other three combined the aggregate Labour majority is less than 900. It would be awfully difficult to do any reconstituting of the Nottingham constituencies without hurting the Conservative Party and spreading some of the immense Labour majority in the west into other constituencies.

I have no doubt that the Labour Party is going to gain by that. If the Joint Under-Secretary will not listen to my argument about two successive reorganisations, will he listen to this one; that his party is certain to gain one and possibly two seats? No, he will not listen to that either. The Government have decided what they are going to do, and there is not much usefulness in this debate.

The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) was rather prolix. I had some difficulty in following his argument. I am getting on in life and do not hear quite as well as I used to do. So much am I getting on that I shall be getting my post-war credits on Monday—though I have already spent them in advance. I did not hear him say he intended to carry his opinions into the Division Lobby.

The last time we debated these Orders, there were some admirable examples, which he might well emulate, by some of his hon. Friends, notably the right hon. Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) who acted as a teller against his party. I should like to have the pleasure of seeing the hon. Member for Carlton in the Division Lobby with us. His action would be appreciated in the county of Nottingham and in the city. I am not that much optimistic. I am in a very pessimistic frame of mind tonight. He rightly stressed the unwillingness and uneasiness felt by everybody in the city and county at the mixing of urban districts in the city.

He used a poverty-stricken adjective which I think came ill from one of his academic and intellectual eminence. There is a river between Nottingham and West Bridgford. It is the River Trent. I will not repeat his adjective. I give the ordinary, prosaic adjectives. The Trent is wide, deep, and majestic, though it may not be what he said it was. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said that the Trent is crossed by only one bridge that is really any good and that will take motor buses. There is a footbridge and a toll bridge, a singularly anachronistic survival of the days when private enterprise had more sway than it has now.

It is terribly difficult to get from Nottingham across the river at the peak periods of the day. I am sorry for the candidates who will have to nurse a constituency which includes both West Bridgford and the southern part of Nottingham. That is the first point.

The second point arises out of the intense, I should think almost unique, self-conscious independence of the citizens of West Bridgford. It is an urban district, mainly residential—a Nottingham dormitory having few, if any, industries. The hon. Member for Carlton said that it was older than Nottingham itself. I just do not know. For all practical and sensible purposes West Bridgford is the creation of Nottingham. An urban district with 18,000 electors would not be there south of the Trent if Nottingham did not exist.

Nevertheless, the people of West Bridgford are acutely jealous of their municipal autonomy. During the Recess I took my wife to a cinema, where we saw a nature film which depicted an insect—the name of the species I have forgotten—which displayed much resource, energy, and courage in defending itself against a hungry rattlesnake. It was a very beautiful film. West Bridgford has displayed much resource, energy, and courage in defending itself against the voracious City of Nottingham, which used to want to gobble it up, though a truce has been called in that respect for many years now.

West Bridgford is a very delectable place. Its people are entitled to be proud and to cherish their excessive self-consciousness at being municipally autonomous, if that is how they feel. I am never more pleased than when somebody says to me, "You were born in Wiltshire," which they can detect from my speech.

I admire immensely the feelings of West Bridgford, but I do not look forward with very much pleasure to one aspect of my future political career—namely, that of having to exercise impartial and constant vigilance and to display much activity in championing what will often be the conflicting views of two mutually antipathetic local authorities—the city and the urban district. I do not like the idea of it, but I suppose that I shall have to do it.

If the Boundary Commissioners had to bring in any outside urban district at all, why should they bring in the one that is separated from Nottingham by the broad River Trent, with its inadequate supply of bridges? Why should not they go east and bring in Carlton? It would have been very much easier for everybody concerned; but no, they could not do that. They had to go across the Trent. The thing is by way of being something of a geographical monstrosity.

I endorse what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Deer). There is no question of jiggery-pokery. I do not like the word, but in any case there is no question of it. What I have said is perfectly true. The findings of the Commissioners hurt the Conservative Party and they do not hurt the Labour Party.

The hon. Member for Carlton quoted, without committing himself to it, the opinion that possibly the prospective Conservative candidate for South Nottingham might be helped by the changes. My agent has been into the matter very carefully. I have in Nottingham one of the shrewdest agents, who foretold within 18 votes what my majority would be at the last election. My agent said that it would be 500 and it was 482. He has been into the question with immense care and considered the whole problem street by street and block by block. He concludes that we may just about top the 700 majority. It will be as close as that.

I have never had anything but precarious majorities. I have never had a safe seat and I shall never have one. I should not like one. I get an immense kick out of holding a seat like this. We shall hold this geographical monstrosity, and my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom), whose majority has been eroding during the last three years because of housing changes, will get the gift of an admirable Labour ward, which will make him safe once again.

Therefore, we are not complaining on partisan grounds. We complain, first, on the ground of the deep affront to the local sentiment of West Bridgford, and, second, the no less affront to the good people who work on both sides of the political fence in Nottingham who will have had to reconstitute their organisations twice.

There is, of course, no such thing as jiggery-pokery on the part of the Boundary Commissioners, nor do I impute jiggery-pokery to the Government. When the Commissioners began by arbitrarily giving Scotland a quota and then arbitrarily giving Wales a quota and dividing what was left for England, that was a questionable procedure; but if the Government have accepted it, that does not mean that the Government are deliberate cheats. They are merely human people who, confronted with a Report which on balance gives their party just a little, said, being human and not having quite so much rectitude as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, that they had better accept it.

Many of us on this side of the House believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, than whom no politician I know has less turpitude and more rectitude, gave away the Labour Government's majority when he was Home Secretary. He did it because he thought that it was the right thing to do. No Tory Home Secretary would ever do a thing like that, and we all know it. I appeal once more to the Joint Under-Secretary. The Order does his party no good. Let him hold it up if only for a few months.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)

May I put two questions to the hon. Gentleman? I know that he was somewhat overcome by the exuberance of his verbosity. Would not the hon. Member say, first, that the people of West Bridgford are people who work in the city and who are fond of the city? My second question is—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

Order. This intervention is developing into a speech.

Mr. Rees-Davies

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Before the hon. Member sat down, I rose to pose this question, which in my submission is perfectly in order, and I was going to pose a second one of some relevance—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The hon. Member can make that point in a speech later.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)

I wish to begin, not by declaring an interest, but by disclaiming one. Although my present constituency of Broxtowe will disappear if these Orders are passed, nevertheless it will be replaced, or substantially replaced, by another constituency called Ashfield which, from the Labour point of view, may be described as pure gold. In any case it will not tempt any Tory candidate looking for a quick road to this House. Therefore I think I can face this matter fairly objectively.

I support the submission and the eloquent plea put forward by the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) for the reconsideration of this Order, first, by reference to the way in which it affects the present constituency of Broxtowe. This provides a supreme example—I will not say of the jiggery-pokery of the Boundary Commission—but of what I would call the intellectual arrogance of the Commission. It appears to have sat in an office poring over a chessboard; treating the electors as pawns and moving them about in blocks calculated on arithmetical principles, without the least regard either to local community interests or to the relationship of the individual elector to his Parliamentary representative.

I associate myself with other hon. Members who have complained that in this case the Boundary Commission rejected the request for a public inquiry. When dealing with the case of Derby- and South-East Derbyshire and answering criticisms, the Joint Under-Secretary said: On a question of this kind there are two sides, and it was obviously for that reason that the Commission, in this case, held an inquiry."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 2032.] I do not know what he proposes to say about the refusal of an inquiry in the case of the Nottinghamshire Orders, because if there were two sides in the case of South-East Derbyshire, where admittedly there was one constituency with an existing electorate of over 74,000, and if there were a case for a public inquiry there, then how much is there a case in this matter, where we have nine constituencies affected, and where the largest constituency has no more than 65,000 electors?

I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will not say that in this case the Boundary Commission obviously did not hold an inquiry because if it had gone to the inquiry, it would not have known what to say to the objectors. That appears to be the only reason why a public inquiry has been refused.

My second point is that in the case of the Broxtowe Division every single local authority has made objections to the recommendations and asked for a public inquiry. That applies to the county council; to the three urban districts of Hucknall, Eastwood and Kirkby, and to the Rural District of Basford. Furthermore, they have all raised objections affecting a particular alteration in the case of this constituency.

The Basford Rural District Council, for example, has objected to the fact that if this Order goes through, the parishes north of the Trent will be further divided between three instead of two Members for Parliamentary purposes. In other words, their community interests are being cut up still further. The Eastwood Urban District Council has objected on the grounds that if this Order goes through the adjoining—in fact, I might almost say the surrounding—parish of Greasley, an integral part of the same community, will be cut off from it for Parliamentary purposes.

This is a case where local knowledge—which the Boundary Commission apparently did not think important—is of some interest. One might think that the town of Eastwood has no special community with a parish, but in fact in this case the parish goes two-thirds of the way round the town. It includes not only a rural district and an agricultural district but also two collieries; and many of the miners who work in those collieries live in Eastwood.

In fact Eastwood is their community centre, their shopping centre, and represents their community interests. Throughout the whole of this area of Broxtowe, in the area between Hucknall, Eastwood, and Kirkby, there is in fact a community of interest based on long local associations, upon predominant mining interests, and also upon excellent communications maintained today, by very good bus services.

In order to illustrate that community of interest I should like to quote from one of the letters of D. H. Lawrence, who was born at Eastwood in the constituency of Broxtowe. In 1916, writing from Italy with a certain nostalgia, to his friend, Rolf Gardner, he said: How well I can see Hucknall Torkard and the miners! Didn't you go into the church to see the tablet, where Byron's heart is buried? My father used to sing in the Newstead Abbey choir, as a boy. But I've gone many times down Hucknall Long Lane, to Watnall. …Some of my happiest days I've spent haymaking in the fields just opposite the South side of Greasley Church. …Miriam's father hired those fields. If you're in those parts again, go to Eastwood, where I was born. … He goes on to describe walks throughout this area and ends by saying: That's the country of my heart. The point about that is that not only to D. H. Lawrence but to a great many other people this is the country of their hearts —the country of a common community, which exists in this triangle between Hucknall, Kirkby, and Eastwood, and which is not in any way related, as a community, to the City of Nottingham.

Yet, as part of the proposals, not only is Broxtowe to be torn into three pieces —one going into the Rushcliffe Division, one into the new Ashfield Division, and the third into the Nottingham, North Division—but in the case of Hucknall, which is to go into the Nottingham, North Division, we have what is probably the clearest violation of the rule that a county district should not be amalgamated with a county borough district. Hucknall is separated from Nottingham by a green belt. It is seven miles away, and it is a distinctive community. Most of the residents are dependent upon the local collieries, not only of Hucknall itself, but of the adjacent parishes of Newstead and Annesley.

Here again there is a community of interest, which spreads north into the county and not south into the city. Hucknall is in no sense a dormitory suburb of Nottingham. Whatever may be said about Oadby and Leicester, or, to some degree, about West Bridgford, cannot be said to any extent about Hucknall. It has a distinctive community of its own, with a clear separation from the City of Nottingham. This proposal is, therefore, the clearest violation of Rule 4, by which the Commissioners were supposed to be bound.

I should like to make one further reference to the community of interest which links this area. Byron, whose ancestral home was in Newstead Abbey, is buried in Hucknall. When in residence in New-stead Abbey he wrote a series of fascinating letters to Lady Melbourne, in one of which he said that Nottinghamshire is noted for coal and the fair sex. He went on to say that for both these excellent reasons he had no difficulty in keeping warm when he was in residence in New-stead. If this Order goes through, Byron's spirit will, for Parliamentary purposes, have to wander about between the new constituency of Ashfield and the extension of Nottingham, North to include Hucknall.

I thought the Home Secretary in this case was at some pains to try to defend the recommendations of the Boundary Commission. He asked us to sympathise with them in their difficulties, and he realised that there was a difficulty in this case. He made some play about Rule 5, which is not about numerical equality, but about avoiding "excessive disparity."

I should like to point out that we cannot just pick and choose which of these rules we would like, because the rules are set forth in a certain order in the Schedule and in an order of supremacy. We have to take them one after the other, and the fact that they are set forth in an order of supremacy is indicated by the use in almost all the rules of the phrase "having regard to the foregoing rules." In other words, the foregoing rules are supreme and have a higher order of importance over and above those which succeed them.

The first three rules do not apply in this case, because there is no question of either increasing or decreasing the number of constituencies, and, therefore, Rule 4 becomes the paramount rule as far as this Order is concerned. Rule 4 says that no part of a county should be included with a county borough, and the Home Secretary tried to justify the fact that this is being done in this case—and, moreover, done to the extent of 33,000 electors in all, counting Hucknall in the north and West Bridgford in the south—by reference only to Rule 5

I notice that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not appeal to Rule 6, so that it is only a question of the interpretation of the phrase "excessive disparity" by which he is able to defend this Order. Admittedly, this phrase "excessive disparity" is a difficult one to interpret, and the Home Secretary himself said it is a matter of opinion, but the Boundary Commission itself have expressed some opinion on the subject. If the joint Under-Secretary will look at paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Commission's recommendations, he will see that it has there indicated what it regards as an "excessive disparity," and, in a sense, it has divided it into two degrees, an absolute one and a relative one.

The absolute one applies where the size of a constituency is above 80,000 or less than 40,000, and the Commission says that such a disparity is so great that it will not allow any constituencies outside those limits. Then, in paragraph 10 it indicates what we may call the limits of relative disparity; and, in the opinion of the Boundary Commission, these are indicated by limits of tolerance of 45,000 to 65,000 electors. In fact, the Commission has left 101 constituencies which are outside these limits, and the extraordinary thing is that, in the case which we are now considering under this Order, not one of the existing constituencies has an electorate which is outside these limits of tolerance of 45,000 to 65,000 electors.

I should like the Joint Under-Secretary to explain to us how it is that he can justify putting Rule 5 over and above Rule 4, when in fact there is no "excessive disparity" within the terms which the Boundary Commission itself has defined.

What is the position? Within the City of Nottingham, the present average electorate is 53,000, only 2,700 below the electoral quota. This rule refers to excessive disparity from the electoral quota, not from the average for the English constituencies. If this Order goes through, the average for the city electorates will be 61,000. In other words, they will be nearly 6,000 above the electoral quota. If 2,700 is an excessive disparity, what is 6,000?

What the Boundary Commissioners have done in this case is to create an even greater disparity from the electoral quota in the case of Nottingham than already existed. They have ignored Rule 4, and have not even observed Rule 5. Therefore, I cannot understand on what grounds their case is based, except, of course, that it is based on something which is not in the Act, the theory that the average electorate of a borough should be higher than that of a county. There is nothing at all in the rules about that, and there is certainly nothing to justify a departure from Rule 4.

I suggest that this Order represents a most flagrant departure from the rules which the Boundary Commissioners are required to observe. The Commissioners have imported into the Act, into the rules, and into their action a principle which does not exist either in the Act or in the rules, and one which creates new inconsistencies and new anomalies. Therefore, above all others, this is a case which ought to be looked at again.

If the Home Secretary wants to prove to the House that the Conservative Central Office did not tell him to rubber-stamp the whole of these Orders because, on balance, the Tory Party would benefit from them, and if he wants to convince us that he has really looked at these Orders on their merits and has done what the Act requires him to do, namely, to make modifications where he thinks necessary, then in this case, which is the most flagrant of them all, he should make an exception and take the Order back for reconsideration.

8.48 p.m.

Mr. Foot

It is a great pity that the Home Secretary himself could not have heard the whole of the debate on this Order. I quite appreciate the reason why he cannot be here all the time, but I am sure that anyone who had listened to the whole debate would be much impressed by it. The people of Nottinghamshire might be interested to know the way in which this Order is being put through the House, if, indeed, the Minister intends to abide by the recommendation of the Boundary Commission.

For most of the debate, we have had the Joint Under-Secretary, a Whip, and an aspiring P.P.S. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am sorry if I mistook the hon. Gentleman's identity. We have not even had an aspiring P.P.S. Those hon. Members have formed the great bulk of the strength which has been mobilised to get this Order through. Although I say that partly jokingly, it is a serious matter, because I believe that had a large number of hon. Members opposite heard the speech of the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) they could not have come to any other conclusion than that the Order should be withdrawn.

The speeches made on this side of the House were equally as effective as those from the Government side, but the ears of hon. Members on that side are not attuned to hear the truth from this side of the House. It is all more shattering to them when they hear it from their own side. It pierces their ears. If hon. Gentlemen had been prepared to do what the Minister said he would do, to listen to the debate with an open mind, they would have been bound to be swayed by the arguments presented by the hon. Member for Carlton. It was an overwhelming case.

Not only did the hon. Gentleman prove that there was no ground for this Order but he answered the question which the Minister had been asking so plaintively before, when he got so heated on the matter. The Minister then plaintively said: "It has not been shown by anybody that the Boundary Commission has broken any rules." The hon. Member for Carlton proved it conclusively in this case.

He proved—and there is no reason to contest his argument—that however we looked at the figures it was not necessary for the Commission, in order to obey its own rules, to do what it is proposing in the Order. If it is unnecessary for the Commission to take a particular action in order to obey its rules, and if it takes that unnecessary action, it is breaking its own rules. It is only if it is empowered to take action that it has any right to do so.

We have had, not only from this side of the House but from that side—from the hon. Member for Carlton—the deliberate charge that the Boundary Commission has broken its own rules in proposing the changes embodied in the Order. Unless the Minister can give an answer to the case that was made by the hon. Member for Carlton he is conniving at the Commission's breach of its own rules.

It is worth while to raise these issues on these Orders because we are now getting a little more information. The Minister has explained more clearly than he has ever done before the principle under which he acts. On the last Order —and presumably the same applies to this Order—he said: "Unless I am satisfied that the Boundary Commission has departed from its rules I have no alternative but to present the Order to the House." That is a total abdication of his responsibility. He has no right to say anything of the sort.

He has no right to say that he is not responsible for the merits of the proposals. Of course he is. Whether the Boundary Commission has abided by its own rules or not, he is responsible for the proposals on their merits. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has invented the entirely new principle that we are not arguing whether the proposals are good or bad but whether the Boundary Commission has carried out its own rules. The hon. Member for Carlton has shown that even on that narrow basis we ought not to support this Order because the Boundary Commission has departed from its own rules in this Order.

As has already been stated by the hon. Member, the Boundary Commission describes, on page 4 of its Report, the circumstances in which it has not strictly applied its own rules. At the bottom of page 4 of the Report, it is stated: In a number of cases we have felt able to modify our original proposals and to recommend that no alteration should be made although on a strict view of Rule 5 some adjustment of boundary would be justified. We therefore have the Boundary Commission saying that it is not necessary for it to apply its rules strictly, we have the case proved conclusively from the opposite side, as I believe, that in this case it has departed from its rules, and we have the Minister claiming that he has not to argue the merits of the case but only whether or not the Boundary Commission has carried out its rules.

It is in this circumstance that the whole of the County of Nottinghamshire is to be turned upside down and every constituency in Nottingham except one is to be changed. We are to have all these difficulties, obstacles, and inconveniences in the application of the rules in the fashion that I have described. It is monstrous that people should be put to such inconvenience when the Boundary Commission itself says that it could have applied the rules less strictly and when, in this case, it has not applied even its own rules.

The hon. Member for Carlton finished his speech with a rather Machiavellian suggestion to the Minister—it still may be a good one on that account—that he might make an exception in this case in order to make all the other Orders look good and to give a false impression that he had been treating all the others on their merits. The Minister has complained of insults from this side of the House, but had he been here to listen to the hon. Member for Carlton he would know something of the venom which can rise in the bosom of an ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education.

Whatever the cause, it was a remarkable suggestion, and I commend it to the Minister. It would have a great effect throughout the country and would get him out of a nasty hole. We should have to make entirely different speeches on all the other Orders. No one could say that the Minister had merely put up Orders which he had settled in advance. I ask him to do it, partly in the interests of salvaging the remnants of his own reputation, but chiefly because it would be a good thing to rescue something from the wreckage, and a very good thing for the people of Nottinghamshire who, under the Minister's proposals, are apparently to be put to all this inconvenience when, in fact, the Boundary Commission did not even apply the most obvious rules which it ought to apply in such cases

8.58 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

In substance, the main argument that has been advanced in regard to this Order is that all the inconvenience, as the hon. Member for Devon-port (Mr. Foot) called it just now, need not really be caused; that the Order is unnecessary. That has been dealt with pretty fully in the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend.

As has been said, the question is really one of opinion, and I cannot do more than set out again the considerations which seem to call for a reorganisation of Nottinghamshire. They are really very considerable. The average electorate of one of the constituencies in Nottingham is just over 53,000, and that compares with an average electorate of each of the county constituencies of 61,500. Of course, if those were simply two constituencies which happened to be together, it might be that it would be necessary to accept that because it would be impossible, for other overriding considerations, to make an alteration.

But here we are dealing with a very substantial county with a very considerable number of seats, and this is an average over the whole of that county. I am bound to say that a difference of that kind is one which certainly calls for—to put it no higher—the deepest consideration. When we appreciate the fact that the low average in the borough is of the seats which are relatively easily represented and the high average in the county is of the seats which are much more difficult to represent, clearly there is a case for taking some action.

Mr. Pickthorn

My hon. Friend will have noted that the difference between 53,000 and 61,000 is a good deal less than 25 per cent.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I quite appreciate that. I said that if we were dealing with two seats side by side we might have to accept the situation, but obviously as the number of seats rises so a smaller difference has to be taken into account, and we are here dealing with 10 seats. Obviously differences of that kind could not be tolerated over the country, and I do not think they should be tolerated in; a county as large as Nottinghamshire.

Hon. Members representing Nottinghamshire constituencies have been very ready to point out the sort of difficulty which may arise through joining outside areas to the city constituencies. They have pointed out a difficulty which they thought was enough to cause the Government to reconsider this Order—the difficulty of crossing the Trent and of crossing the green belt. If those arguments are valid, how much more valid are they in the case of the larger constituencies outside Nottingham and how much greater the reasons for seeing that this disparity between city and county does not continue. For those reasons, I think there is a case for making the alteration and I think it is perfectly proper for the Commission to have put forward such suggestions as these.

The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) asked why there had been no inquiry. It is true that in a large reorganisation of this sort a great many possibilities must have presented themselves to the Commissioners. I have made inquiries and I find that no constructive alternative suggestions were put forward to the Commission.

Mr. Pickthorn

That is a misunderstanding.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

That is what I am advised.

Mr. Pickthorn

I feel quite sure that that is a misunderstanding of the facts. I feel quite sure that an alternative plan was put forward.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I think it is true that suggestions were made that there should be an additional seat, but that is quite another matter. Anyone can suggest dealing with the problem in that way, but the Commission felt itself bound, as everyone has agreed that it should be bound, not to consider the addition of a further seat in this way.

Mr. Warbey

There was the further possibility that things should be left as they were.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

There were, if that is so, only two alternatives before the Commission—namely, to leave things as they are or to adopt the scheme which the Commissioners have proposed. I have already argued that they considered the facts in the light of the rules and decided, having regard not to particular local circumstances but to the general figures that they could see without any further inquiry, that there was a case for making an alteration. It seems to me that it was perfectly reasonable and proper for the Commissioners first of all to decide that an alteration was necessary and, secondly, to decide, in the absence of any other constructive proposals, that the proposals which they have put forward were those which they ought to recommend.

I want to deal with another matter which has been raised by a number of hon. Members. As my right hon. and gallant Friend said, the proposed Nottingham constituencies are based on the present wards of the city. A new ward scheme is being prepared following a Petition by the city council under Section 25 of the Local Government Act, 1933. It is being prepared by a Commissioner appointed by the Home Secretary. We have been asked why the scheme was not made in time for the new constituencies to be based on the new wards. I think that was the main point put forward by several hon. Members.

The right hon. Member for South Shields and the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith) have already urged in correspondence with my right hon. and gallant Friend that this should be done and that by this means one would avoid the need for a further Parliamentary Constituency Order later adjusting the boundaries of the new constituencies to these new wards. The facts are that the council's petition and proposals for ward alterations reached the Home Office towards the end of June and a commissioner was appointed on 2nd July. He offered to hold the local inquiry during July but was told by the town clerk that the council could not conveniently manage a date before mid-September. The inquiry was held on 16th September.

The city council's proposals were strongly opposed at the inquiry, which was adjourned by agreement so that the commissioner could explore the possibility of compromise. Discussions followed between the commissioner and the opposing parties. Compromise was agreed upon at the end of October. There still remained a number of detailed points on the proposed new ward boundaries and these have only been settled since Christmas. In all the circumstances, there has at no time been any real possibility of basing the present Draft Parliamentary Constituencies Order on the proposed new wards. Even if a scheme were made this month, the constituency alterations would still have to be made in two stages.

The local parties in Nottingham, I am told, do not desire that the new wards scheme should come into force for the municipal elections in May, and it would be quite anomalous and confusing to the electors if the new wards were promulgated some time before the elections which were to be held on the old wards. I think it follows that nothing much would be gained by hastening the wards scheme. As regards local elections, it would be actually undesirable to do so.

I can give this assurance that steps will be taken to ensure that the necessary further Constituencies Order will be submitted to Parliament in good time to be made before the Summer Recess. Hon. Members must make up their own minds whether it will be effective or not. I believe this is a sound Order and that the House should give its approval.

Mr. Willey

The main argument of the hon. Gentleman is that the alternative is to leave things as they are, but, if we leave things as they are, there is a disparity between the county and borough constituencies. The hon. Gentleman will remember that when we were discussing the Orders before the Christmas Recess some of us took the point that we criticised the present Orders because they aggravated the difference in size between the county constituencies and the borough constituencies. Supposing we followed the alternative in this case and allowed the disparity between Nottingham and the county, what would be the overall effect on constituencies in England?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I could not give the hon. Member an answer to that. It would be very small indeed taken all over, because 10 constituencies are not a very large proportion out of some 500; but 10 constituencies are a fairly substantial block of constituencies. Although

I can see that there can be small unevennesses in one or two constituencies, which may be due to geographical circumstances which are very difficult or relatively impossible, there is no such over-riding consideration here, and the only argument advanced against the proposal is inconvenience and trouble. In those circumstances, it seems right to carry out the Commission's recommendation.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 246, Noes 218.

Division No. 23.] AYES [9.10 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Fell, A. Linstead, Sir H. N.
Alport, C. J. M. Finlay, Graeme Llewellyn, D. T.
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathooat (Tiverton) Fisher, Nigel Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn Wirral)
Armstrong, C. W Ford, Miss Paticia Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W) Galbrarih, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Longden, Gilbert
Astor, Hon. J. J. Gammans, L. D. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Garner-Evans, E. H Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Baldwin, A. E. Glover, D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Banks, Col. C. Godber, J. B. McCallum, Major D.
Barber, Anthony Gomme-Duncan, Col A McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S
Barlow, Sir John Gower, H. R. Macdonald, Sir Peter
Beach, Maj. Hicks Graham, Sir Fergus McKibbin, A. J.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Cresham Cooke, R. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Grimond, J. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hall, John (Wycombe) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hare, Hon. J. H. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Birch, Nigel Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Bishop, F. P. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Black, C. W. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Heath, Edward Markham, Major Sir Frank
Bossom, Sir A. C. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Boyle, Sir Edward Higgs, J. M. C. Marples, A. E.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Braithwarte, Sir Gurney Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Maude, Angus
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maydorn, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hirst, Geoffrey Medlicott, Brig. F.
Brooman-White, R. C. Holland-Martin, C. J Mellor, Sir John
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hollis, M. C. Molson, A. H. E.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P G T. Holt, A. F. Moore, Sir Thomas
Bullard, D. G. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E Horobin, I. M. Nabarro, G. D N.
Burden, F. F. A. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Neave, Airey
Butcher, Sir Herbert Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Campbell, Sir David Howard, Hon. Grevitle (St. Ives) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Cary, Sir Robert Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Nield, Basil (Chester)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nugent, G. R. H.
Colegate, W. A. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Oakshott, H. D.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hurd, A. R. Odey, G. W.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W) O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Jennings, Sir Roland Osborne, C.
Crouch, R. F. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Page, R. G.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Crowder, Potre (Ruislip—Northwood) Jones, A. (Hall Green) Perkins, Sir Robert
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Davidson, Viscountess Kerby, Capt. H. B. Peyton, J. W. W.
Deedes, W. F. Kerr, H. W. Pitman, I. J.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Lambert, Hon. G. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Drayson, G. B. Lambton, Viscount Powell, J. Enoch
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Langford-Holt, J. A. Profumo, J. D.
Duthie, W. S. Leather, E. H. C. Raikes, Sir Victor
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ramsden, J. E.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Rayner, Brig. R.
Errington, Sir Eric Lindsay, Martin Rees-Davies, W. R
Renton, D. L. M. Stevens, Geoffrey Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Vosper, D. F.
Robertson, Sir David Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Wade, D. W.
Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Robton-Brown, W. Storey, S. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Roper, Sir Harold Studholme, H. G. Wall, Major Patrick
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Summers, G. S. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Russell, R. S. Sumner, W. D. M. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Sutcliffe, Sir Harold Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas Taylor, William (Bradford, N.) Watkinson, H. A.
Schofield, Lt-Col. W. Teeling, W. Wellwood, W.
Scott, R. Donald Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Williams, Rt. Holl. Charles (Torquay)
Scott-Miller, Comdr. R. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Sharples, Maj. R. C. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Shepherd, William Thorneycroft, Rt.Hn. Peter (Monmouth) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Wills, G.
Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Tilney, John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Snadden, W. McN. Touche, Sir Gordon Woollsm, John Victor
Soames, Capt. C. Turner, H. F. L.
Speir, R. M. Turton, R. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Vane, W. M. F Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Kaberry.
Acland, Sir Richard Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P C Mellish, R. J.
Adams, Richard Grey, C. F. Messer, Sir F.
Albu, A. H Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mitchison, G. R
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Griffiths, Rt, Hon. James (Llanelly) Monslow, W.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hale, Leslie Moody, A. S.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hen. C. R. Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Morley, R.
Awbery, S. S. Hamilton, W. W. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Hannan, W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Baird, J. Hardy, E. A. Mort, D. L.
Bartley, P. Hargreaves, A. Moyle, A.
Bing, G. H. C. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Mulley, F. W
Blackburn, F. Hastings, S. Murray, J. D,
Blenkinsop, A. Hayman, F. H. Nally, W.
Blyton, W. R. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Boardman, H Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Oliver, G. H.
Bettomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Herbison, Miss M. Orbach, M.
Bowden, H. W. Hewitson, Capt. M. Oswald, T.
Bowles, F. G. Holman, p. Owen, W. J.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Holmes, Horace Padley, W. E.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hoy, J. H. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Deame Valley)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hubbard, T. F. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Burke, W. A. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Pannell, Charles
Carmichael, J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pargiter, G. A.
Champion, A. J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Parker, J.
Chapman, W. D. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pearson, A.
Chetwynd, G. R Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Peart, T. F.
Clunie, J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Coldrick, W Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Popplewell, E.
Collick, P. H. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Porter, G.
Collins, V. J. Janner, B. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jeger, George (Goole) Probert, A. R.
Crosland, C. A. R. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Proctor, W. T.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Pryde, D. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Johnson, James (Rugby) Rankin, John
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Reeves, J.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, David (Hartlepool) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Delargy, H. J. Keenan, W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Dodds, N. N. Kenyon, C. Robinson, Kenneth (St.Pancras, N.)
Driberg, T. E. N. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Kinley, J. Ross, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Edwards, Rt. Hon John (Brighouse) Lewis, Arthur Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, Rt. Hon Ness (Caerphilly) Lindgren, G. S. Short, E. W.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Logan, D. G. Shurmer, p. L. E.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) MacColl, J. E. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Fernyhough, E. McGhee, H. G. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
F'nch, H. J. Mclnnes, J. Skeffington, A. M.
Fletcher, Erio (Islington, E.) McKay, John (Wallsend) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Foot, M. M. McLeavy, F. Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mann, Mrs. Jean Snow, J. W.
Gibson, C W. Manuel, A. C. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Glanville, James Marquand, Rt. Hon H A Sparks, J. A
Gooch, E. G. Mason, Roy Steele, T
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Watkins, T. E. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Stross, Dr. Barnett Weitzman, D. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y>
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wells, Percy (Faversham) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Sylvester, G. O. Wells, William (Walsall) Willis, E. G.
Taylor, John (West Lothian) west, D. G. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Thomas, George (Cardiff) Wheeldon, W. E. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C)
Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Thornton, E. Wigg, George Wyatt, W. L.
Tomney, F. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B Yates, V. F.
Turner-Samuels, M. Wilkins, W. A.
Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Willey, F. T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Viant, S. P. Williams, David (Neath) Mr. Deer and Mr. Warbey.
Wallace, H. W Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)


That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Nottinghamshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

9.20 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (South-East Staffordshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order creates a new constituency by dividing Walsall, which is now a single constituency, into Walsall, North, which is to include the urban district of Brownhills, now in Cannock Constituency, and Walsall, South, which is to include the urban district of Aldridge, which is now in Lichfield and Tamworth. Consequently upon that, Wednesfield Urban District is transferred from Wednesbury to Cannock. The effect on the electorates is that Cannock, which now has 58,000, will have 56,000 and Lichfield and Tamworth, which now has 65,000, will have 46,000 and Wednesbury, which now has 71,000, will have 59,000 and the two Walsall seats will be North 54,000 and South 56,000.

The electorate in Staffordshire went down by 28,000 between 1946 and 1953, but on the new basis resulting from the creation of the 17 extra seats in 1948, it is entitled to an extra seat; that is to say, the present 18 seats give an average electorate of 61,800 and the proposed 19 seats will give an average electorate of 58,400. Walsall has the highest average of existing constituencies in the county and Wednesbury the second highest. It seems right, therefore, that the new seat should be created there. The. Walsall electorate, however, is not large enough in itself for two constituencies and therefore some cutting across local government boundaries seems to have been inevitable.

Counter-proposals have been put forward. The hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) and the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) have made certain counter proposals by correspondence. They suggested that the Hatherton, Blackenhall and Paddock wards plus the two urban districts of Brownhills and Aldridge should be one seat and that the remaining six wards of Walsall should be the other seat. They claim that the Commission's proposals look rather awkward on the map—and I would not deny that that is so—and that the two urban districts have a community of interest. They said that while Walsall Borough Council agreed with the Commission's provisional recommendations, it was by only a very narrow majority, I think by only one vote.

These counter-proposals were not made when the Commission's provisional recommendations were published. The proposals that the two urban districts should be in the same constituency was considered. It was made by the councils of those districts.

Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tam-worth)

I did not want to interrupt, but on a point of fact the hon. Gentleman is not right in saying that the counterproposals were made subsequent to the publication of the provisional proposals. They were.in fact put forward, among others, by the Aldridge Urban District Council, and a very small modification was suggested by the Brownhills Urban District Council.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I do not want to mislead or to misrepresent the House. I am not trying to make a point of this. I was about to say that similar proposals had been put forward. Indeed, that is part of my case, because those proposals were considered by the Commissioners. It may be said that the House or my right hon. and gallant Friend should be the judge in this matter, but I suggest that this really is the kind of question on which, unless some very specific case were made out, the Commission is properly the judge, for it is essentially a detailed local matter.

The Commissioners considered the point and came to the conclusion that their proposals are better both numerically and geographically. My right hon. and gallant Friend does not differ from the Commissioners in that view. The counter-proposals would have provided for two constituencies of Walsall, South and Walsall, North with electorates of 51,000 and 61,000 respectively. The present proposals provide for electorates of 56,000 and 54,000. Those seem to be better figures. On the whole, the Commission's scheme seems to be the better one and I recommend it to the House.

9.27 p.m.

Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tam-worth)

I have been rather perturbed, as this series of debates has progressed, by a lack of evidence that there is any intention whatever on the part of the Home Secretary to be open to conviction that the Boundary Commissioners have in fact broken the rules. I should like to ask the Home Secretary at this stage whether there are any circumstances in which he thinks that he could be convinced that the rules have been broken.

Major Lloyd-George

I assume that the hon. Gentleman wants an answer now. I said earlier that nobody has yet been able to show where any rule has been broken. I said that I had been confirmed in that by decisions taken elsewhere.

Mr. Snow

I was addressing myself to that remark.

I have heard a series of arguments deployed by hon. Members today which appear to me, wholly or in part, to demonstate that the rules have been broken. That appears to make no difference at all to the Home Secretary's opinion. I can to some extent show an independence of mind on the Order because it does not really affect my own constituency of Lichfield and Tamworth politically as far as I can see.

A proposal has been made which seems wholly ridiculous. We have heard the Commission described this afternoon as indulging in jiggery-pokery and of showing intellectual arrogance. I may or may not agree with those opinions, but I maintain that on this Order the Corn-mission has been grossly incompetent. From the map of the new constituencies of Walsall, North and Walsall, South one sees that the shape of the constituencies is ridiculous. One is tempted to believe that the cartographer has had an overdose of Henry Moore.

Rule 6 is on the subject of shape. The shape of these two proposed constituencies is such—and accessibility is a point bound up with the same question—that people in Walsall, North would have to pass through Walsall, South to get to some parts of Walsall, North, and the reverse is also true. Speaking from the point of view of local transport and services—and this is a very important matter indeed for a community which is almost wholly industrial—people will have to travel through the constituency in an extraordinarily roundabout way if the recommendations of the Commission are supported.

But there is something more fundamentally important to my mind, and that is that there is one main problem within the context of the effect which these proposals will have eventually on local government boundaries. There is a history here both in respect of the relationship between Brownhills and Aldridge and the relationship of Walsall to the county, where there have been demands in the past, quite apart from Parliamentary considerations, for various changes.

There has been nervousness on the part of Aldridge Urban District Council that it would be absorbed, by means of some form of Private Bill, into Walsall. There has been a demand in the past for the amalgamation of the relatively poverty-stricken urban district of Brownhills into Aldridge, which was substantially what the county proposals were. Incidentally, may I say how very sorry I think that all hon. Members will be at what I trust will prove to be the purely temporary indisposition of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), whose constituency is affected?

This urban district of Brownhills is a poor one. In the past it has asked to be attached to Aldridge, and if only for that reason I should have thought the Boundary Commission should have paid some consideration to the counterproposals. When the Joint Under-Secretary was referring to the bare majority by which the recommendations of the Commission were accepted by Walsall, he did not, incidentally, mention that the three other local authorities concerned if we can count a county as a local authority—that is to say, Aldridge, Brownhills and the County of Staffordshire, were strongly opposed to the recommendations of the Commission.

I should like to suggest, therefore, that the Home Secretary have another look at this case. Rule 4 (1, a), that is to say, the rule by which county constituencies should not be embodied in county boroughs, is, of course, also broken in this case. But I have heard so many instances of the breaking of this particular rule that I am giving up hope of it making any impression at all upon the Home Secretary. However, there is a strong case for not including Aldridge particularly within the Parliamentary Borough of Walsall at all.

I should explain that one of the great social problems of this sprawling colony of conurbations in the Midlands is the time taken by people to get from their residence to their place of work. In this case, very properly, the Aldridge Urban District Council has over the past few years constructed a very big trading and manufacturing estate, one of the main aims of which was to eradicate the necessity for thousands of workpeople to have to go into Walsall, Birmingham, and West Bromwich to get to their work.

That was a Government-sponsored and supported project which is now beginning to achieve considerable success, but I should say that its success has been in the teeth of opposition from certain employing interests in Walsall. What, therefore, will be the position if Aldridge is to be amalgamated with Walsall? It will, I fear, be antagonism on this question of employment. That is another reason why I suggest that the counter-proposals, which would leave Aldridge and Brown-hills outside the urban control of Walsall should be re-examined.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I thought that the hon. Member's proposals were that Brownhills and Aldridge should be combined with the Hatherton, Blakenall, and Paddock wards of Walsall, and that, therefore, his proposal was to include those two urban districts with the three wards of Walsall. Am I wrong about that?

Mr. Snow

The hon. Member is wrong to the extent that it depends whether one is looking at the lion from inside or outside the cage. In this case the three wards concerned are, historically speaking, part of Staffordshire. I was not born in Staffordshire, but I know that, as in the case of many other counties, it commands a loyalty and inspiration which is purely a county one, and which has no desire to be absorbed into a city. Indeed, when one hears this matter being discussed locally, it is quite obvious that these proposals run counter to the Abercrombie Plan, which concerns the conurbation of the Midlands.

The Abercrombie Plan is not a matter of dispute. It was a well-thought-out social plan to prevent increasing encroachment into the Midlands rural areas. This matter has been raised time after time in this House, and I have quite given up any hope that this Government will protect rural and agricultural interests. It cannot be forgotten that the demand to extend county borough boundaries will follow as sure as day follows night if this recommendation goes through. I should have thought that once the Government had accepted the Staffordshire overspill principle, which was designed to prevent the encroachment by the county boroughs, they would have supported these counterproposals.

These proposals before the House are rather typical of many which have been put forward by the Government and resisted by hon. Members on this side of the House, but for me there is this peculiarity—that I agree with the carving off of Aldridge from the Lichfield and Tam-worth constituency. I think, however, that it needed an organising genius to work out the Commission's present proposals in such an illogical way, and for those reasons I hope that the Government will have another look at the proposals.

9.38 p.m.

Mr. William Wells (Walsall)

My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) has put the case against this redistribution from the point of view of the urban and rural districts which are now being absorbed in the two Walsall constituencies. I, rather naturally, shall look at the matter through the eyes of Walsall, though I hope without unfairness to the districts represented by my hon. Friend and by my other hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee).

The Commissioners were given certain rules upon which they were to act. Those rules have been qualified in many ways, and the qualifications are such that it is extremely difficult, as the courts have found, to say whether or not any proposal of the Commissioners is in contradiction to the rules. In this case, as in so many others, Rule 4 (1) is concerned. That Rule says that So far as is practicable … no county or any part thereof shall be included in a constitutency which includes the whole or part of any other county or the whole or part of a county borough or metropolitan borough … It is precisely that rule which has been fundamentally contravened in this case.

As to the qualifications, my criticism of the Commissioners is that, looking at case after case and proposal after proposal which has been argued in this House, the one conclusion which forces itself irresistibly upon one's mind is that the Commissioners have paid more attention to the qualifications than to the rules.

One is rather reminded of the occasion when William Pitt, during the short period when he was not Prime Minister, in his capacity of Lord Lieutenant of Kent, was examining the regulations being drawn up for the volunteers. Whatever was dealt with regarding the circumstances in which soldiers were to be called up, each regulation ended with the words "except in the case of invasion." The final rule was that they should not be compelled to leave the county, and Pitt, in a mood of irritation, wrote in at the end "except in case of invasion." It is this attention to the qualifications and this disregard of the principles which has in so many cases, as in this one, made nonsense of the rules which have been laid down for the guidance of the Boundary Commission.

When one passes from the general to the particular, what is the situation which confronts us in the constituency? It is true that Walsall is a large constituency, not unique, not the largest—very far from it—but still large. Theoretically, if it can be done without infringing too gravely the other principles of good representation, it would be a good thing to reduce the size of Walsall, but one has to have regard to these other principles as well.

The first fact that strikes one about Walsall is that it is a living community. It has its cricket club and its football club, not very happily placed in the Third Division, but still attracting—and these things have some significance—support from the people of Walsall out of all proportion to that of many of its more successful competitors, and that is a sign that, to the people of Walsall. Walsall does really mean a great deal.

It is also true that North Walsall is a community of its own. I remember when I first fought this division going inside a polling station in North Walsall in Bloxwich. An old gentleman came up to my wife and said: "You are wasting your time at this end of the borough. You do not need to bother about us it's them so-and-so's in Walsall."

Mr. Snow

Hear, hear.

Mr. Wells

There is a certain rugged independence, therefore—

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

It sounds like it.

Mr. Wells

—in the attitude adopted by the inhabitants of North Walsall towards the inhabitants of Walsall as a whole, but that does not prevent them from supporting the Walsall Football Club.

The significant point is therefore this—that whatever community life Walsall and North Walsall may have, the people of Brownhills emphatically do not wish to share in that community life, because they have their own life and think that it is a good one. I have no doubt that they are right, and that it is just for historical reasons that these very admirable communities want to live apart.

Let us face the fact that, inside Walsall, the Commissioners have enjoyed a certain measure of support for their proposals. One can only conjecture the reasons for this support. One of them, and one of the more respectable ones, though an extremely dangerous one from the point of view of those whom my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth has been representing, is that with this redistribution there will be two constituencies in which Walsall has a preponderance of votes.

The reckoning is that in the contests that are the daily features of local government, Walsall will be more strongly represented by two Members than it would be by one. This calculation is obviously based on a quite fundamental misconception of the duties of a Member of Parliament and of the way in which all of us, even the worst among us, carry out those duties.

Once a Member is elected for Walsall, North and once a Member is elected for Walsall, South they will be as much Members for Brownhills and Aldridge as they are for Walsall. The practical result of this change in terms of local government will be that the County Borough of Walsall will, for the first time since 1832, not really be represented in Parliament, that the rural district councils will not be so represented, and that the Members, instead of having a clear duty to one local authority, will be in the undesirable position of being in the nature of arbiters between them.

Alternatives which would not have had—certainly for Walsall—the bad results which these proposals would have, were put before the Commissioners. Their effects would have been that there would have been one constituency which was predominantly Walsall and another in which some wards of Walsall and some other districts were incorporated on a rough basis of equality. That would have left Walsall with a borough Member, and would have done rough justice as between the rest.

In spite of the protest of the three local authorities for whom my hon. Friend has spoken, and in spite of the clear division of opinion within the Borough of Walsall itself and of representations for a local inquiry, the Commissioners, and, after the Commissioners, the Government, have persisted in the proposals which are now before the House. These alternatives have not been examined.

I do not wish to add any more to the volume of criticism that has been levelled at the Commissioners in this and in other matters. The Commissioners have been given the wrong job to do, and, with their quite obvious lack of political experience, they are clearly the wrong people to do it. I do not make my criticisms in any personal sense, but I certainly deplore the lack of historical understanding, of perspective and of the working of our political institutions, and also the disregard shown by the Government for the community life of the electorate. Though I dare not hope at this late hour that the Government will reconsider their decision, I must say that, of the many bad decisions which they have taken in this matter, this is one of the worst.

9.50 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

I have listened with interest to the speeches made by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) and the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow). They both alleged that the rules to which the Boundary Commission had to adhere, Rules 4 and 6, were broken. I was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Walsall make that allegation.

On considering the rules, as I have done more than once, I can see no ground whatever for saying that either of those rules has been broken in this instance by the Commission. The rules, which were laid down when the Act was passed in the lifetime of the previous Government, give the Commission a considerable margin of discretion, subject to certain main principles.

The complaint made by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth was that the Commission did not give consideration to special geographical factors. If he will look at the rules he will see that they give the Boundary Commissions power to depart from the strict application of the last two foregoing rules. I do not think I need to pursue the matter. The criticisms which the hon. Gentleman directed at the Boundary Commissions and the way they work could more properly be directed to the contents of the rules. The Boundary Commissions have to act in accordance with the rules.

Now I will reply to the criticisms advanced about these particular changes. Under the proposals of the Commission, both the urban districts in question are joined to Walsall constituencies, the urban district of Brownhills going to Walsall, North and the urban district of Aldridge going to Walsall, South. The proposal of the hon. Gentleman is that both those urban districts should go with the eastern wards of Walsall.

I was somewhat at a loss to follow the argument put forward in persuasive fashion by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth. It is wrong, as my hon. Friend said in moving this Order, to suppose that these counter-proposals were not seriously considered. They were indeed, and the Commission came to the conclusion that its own proposals were the better of the two. Neither proposal really meets the criticism which the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth has now put forward.

One reason which, as I understand the position, led the Commission to come to the conclusion that its recommendations were the best, was that the results of its recommendations left Walsall, North and Walsall, South with electorates of very nearly the same figure, 54,661 in one case and 56,953 in the other; whereas the proposals of the hon. Gentlemen created a considerable disparity between those two seats. Walsall, North, under their proposals, would have 61,514 and Walsall, South 51,100.

I hope that I have said enough in relation to the allegation that the rules were broken. It is not perhaps for me to reply to the criticisms made of the Commission. As I say, those criticisms might perhaps be more properly directed to the rules which prescribe how the Commission is to act. I have sought to answer the hon. Gentlemen's criticisms of the actual proposals—I hope to the satisfaction of the hon. Gentlemen.

Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that criticisms should be directed to the rules, are we to understand that he considers the rules are wrong to begin with?

The Attorney-General

I was not expressing any view on that. I was saying that the criticisms made by hon. Gentlemen opposite were really criticisms of the rules which prescribed how the Commission was to work.

Mr. W. Wells

The Attorney-General has said that he did not understand my hon. Friend's criticisms of the geographical set-up of the constituencies. If he will look at the map he will see that, in the constituencies as proposed, if one is in Walsall Wood, which is part of Walsall, North, in order to get to the main part of Walsall, North one has to go through Walsall, South, including the main part of the town of Walsall itself. Similarly, quite a large part of Walsall, South is a re-entrant right in the middle of Walsall, North, almost completely surrounded, on the one hand by the town of Walsall and on the other by part of Brownhills. Under the proposed set-up it will be grossly inconvenient to travel by public transport from one part of one constituency to another, but much easier to travel from one constituency to the other.

The Attorney-General

That is certainly the case in my own constituency. At election times it is grossly inconvenient for me to travel through the Borough of Northampton and see all the posters of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on my way from one part of my constituency to another.

The hon. Member drew attention to the awkward shape on the map and to the geographical features. All I was saying was that Rule 6 gives the Commission power to … depart from the strict application of the last two foregoing rules if special geographical considerations… exist. That vests a discretion in the Commission to which, no doubt, it had regard in deciding that these proposals which it put forward were the best proposals, having regard to all the factors which it had to take into account.

Mr. Snow

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman stating the position the wrong way round? The Rule says: A Boundary Commission may depart from the strict application of the last two foregoing rules"— that is Rules 4 and 5— if special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency, appear to them to render a departure desirable. We are applying ourselves to the fact that Rule 6 should apply and has not been applied.

The Attorney-General

I think that the hon. Member should ask his hon. Friends behind him, because I cannot explain further than I have done.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman ended his speech by expressing the hope that he had answered the questions of my hon. Friends. He is intelligent enough, I am sure, to make it unnecessary for me to tell him that he did not answer them to the slightest extent. I have listened to most of the debates on the Orders tonight. The Home Secretary has spoken several times, and there is only one thing worse than his explanations, and that is the so-called explanation which we have just had from the Attorney-General.

Really, this thing goes from bad to worse. I do not know what we can do. Arguments are deployed from that side and this—this is not a one-sided matter; criticisms have come from that side of the House just as much as they have from this.

None of us has been able to make the slightest impression on the Minister, and the question arises whether it is much good going on with this farce. Some time ago the Home Secretary was good enough to say that he would listen to the arguments put forward with an open mind. I am beginning to think that what he meant was a vacant mind, for frankly, that open mind has not yet shown itself. We have 56 of these Orders. Today we have dealt with six and before we adjourned for the Recess we dealt with 32, so that we are easily half-way through; yet in not a single instance has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman met us in any way. One would imagine from his attitude that these Orders are so splendid that no one could possibly have any criticism to offer. On the contrary, as I have said, and as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows only too well, criticisms have been made not only from this side of the House but equally from the other. This has not been a party matter.

We are fobbed off with repeated assertions that the rules have not been broken, and I do not want to harp on that, for it reminds me of a conversation which I heard between two people the other night, one a Communist and the other a violent anti-Communist. The anti-Communist kept on asserting that there were concentration camps in Russia and the Com- munist kept on denying it. That is the sort of thing which has been happening today. Hon. Members have been giving chapter and verse to show that the rules have been broken and time after time the Minister has risen to assert that no one has yet shown that the rules have been broken. We could go on doing that all night.

On this Order I want to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to forget the rules and to look at the arguments which have been advanced by my hon. Friends. Unless we get a better reply from him, I must ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote against this Order, and I hope that when we do we shall be joined by hon. Members opposite.

We are told that the Home Secretary is not answerable for what the Commissioners have done. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman adds—and the Joint Under-Secretary of State has also said several times—that he does not know what was in the Commissioners' minds. We do not object to his saying that but we should like to know what is in the Minister's mind. Indeed, we have not yet heard what is in anybody's mind on that side about these Orders.

We are not told in the Commissioners' Report why these recommendations have been made. The situation is very different in the Scottish Report, in which arguments are put forward to show why certain conclusions have been reached. That is not done here. As we are not to be told in the Report, cannot we be told from the Box by the Minister so that we know that we are not living like Alice in Wonderland and that there really is some reason in somebody's mind on the Government side why these Orders should be as they are and why we should pass them?

As I am afraid that at this hour of the night we are unlikely to get much more out of the Minister, on this Order at any rate, I can only conclude with the hope that my hon. Friends will insist on carrying the Order to a Division.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 224, Noes 195.

Division No. 24.] AYES [10.3 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Heath, Edward Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Alpert, C. J. M. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Osborne, C.
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Higgs, J. M. C. Page, R. G.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Armstrong, C. W. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Perkins, Sir Robert
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Hinchingbrooke, Visoount Peyton, J. W. W.
Astor, Hon. J. J. Hirst, Geoffrey Pickthorn, K. W. M
Baldwin, A. E. Holland-Martin, C. J. Pitman, I. J.
Banks, Col. C. Hollis, M. C. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Barber, Anthony Holt, A. F. Powell, J. Enoch
Barlow, Sir John Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L
Beach, Maj. Hicks Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Raikes, Sir Victor
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Horobin, I. M. Ramsden, J. E.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading. N.) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Rayner, Brig. R.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Redmayne, N.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Birch, Nigel Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Renton, D. L. M.
Bishop, F. P. Hurd, A. R. Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Black, C. W. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Bossom, Sir A. C. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Boyle, Sir Edward Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Roper, Sir Harold
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Jones, A. (Hall Green) Russell, R. S.
Brooman-White, R. C. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Bullard, D. G. Kerr, H. W. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Lambert, Hon. G. Sooft, R. Donald
Butcher, Sir Herbert Lambton, Viscount Scott-Miler, Cmdr. R.
Campbell, Sir David Langford-Holt, J. A. Sharpies, Maj. R. C.
Cary, Sir Robert Leather, E. H. C. Shepherd, William
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Legge-Bourke, Maj, E. A. H. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Lindsay, Martini Snadden, W. McN.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Linstead, Sir H. N. Speir, R. M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Llewellyn, D. T. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Crouch, R. F. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Storey, S.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Longden, Gilbert Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Davidson, Viscountess Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Summers, G. S.
Deedes, W. F. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Sumner, W. D. M.
Donaldson, Cmdr, C. E. McA. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Doughty, C. J. A. McCallum, Major R. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Drayson, G. B. Macdonald, Sir Peter Teeling, W.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond) McKibbin, A. J. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Duthie, W. S. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Errington, Sir Eric Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Tilney, John
Fell, A. Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Touche, Sir Gordon
Finlay, Graeme Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Turner, H. F. L.
Fisher, Nigel Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald Turton, R. H.
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Markham, Major Sir Frank Vane, W. M. F.
Ford, Mrs. Patricia Marlowe, A. A. H. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollak) Marples, A. E. Vesper, D. F.
Galbraith. T. G. D. (Hillhead) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Wade, D. W.
Gammons, L. D. Maude, Angus Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Gamer-Evans, E. H Maydon. Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Glover, D. Medlicott, Brig. F. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Godber, J. B. Mellor, Sir John Wall, Major Patrick
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Matson, A. H. E. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Gower, H. R. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Graham, Sir Fergus Nabarro, G. D. N. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gresham Cooke, R. Wave, Airey Wellwood, W.
Grimond, J. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Williams, Gerald (Tunbridge)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Nicolson, Nigel {Bournemouth, E.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Nield, Basil (Chester) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Nugent, G. R. H. Wills G.
Hare, Hon. J. H. Oakshott, H. D. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Odey, G. W. Woollam, John Victor
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Mr. Studholme and Mr. Kaberry.
Acland, Sir Richard Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Pannell, Charles
Adams, Richard Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Pargiter, G. A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Herbison, Miss M. Parker, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hewitson, Capt. M. Pearson, A.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Holman, P. Pearl, T. F.
Awbery, S. S. Holmes, Horace Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss Alice Houghton, Douglas Popplowell, E.
Baird, J. Hey, J. H. Porter, G.
Bartley, P. Hubbard, T. F. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bing, G. H. C. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Probert, A. R.
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Proctor, W. T.
Blenkinsop, A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reeves, J.
Blyton, W. R. Hyatt, H. (Accrington) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Boardman, H. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Bowden, H. W. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bowles, F. G. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Robinson, Kenneth (Sir Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Janner, B. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Ross, William
Burke, W. A. Jeger, George (Goole) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Carmichael, J. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Short, E. W.
Champion, A. J. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Chapman, W. D. Johnson, James (Rugby) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Chetwynd, G. R. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Coldrick, W. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Skeffington, A. M.
Collick, P. H. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Collins, V. J. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Corbel, Mrs. Freda Keenan, W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Kenyon, C. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Crosland, C. A. R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Sparks, J. A.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Steele, T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. A. Lewis, Arthur Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lindgren, G. S. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Logan, D. G. Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Harold (Leek) MacColl, J. E. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) McGhee, H. G. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Mutinies, J. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Deer, G. McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Delargy, H. J. McLeavy, F. Thornton, E.
Dodds, N. N. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Turner-Samuels, M.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Manuel, A. C. Wallace, H. W.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Warbey, W. N.
Edwards, Rt. Han. Ness (Caerphilly) Mason, Roy Watkins, T. E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mellish, R. J. Weitzman, D.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mitchison, G. R. West, D. G.
Fernyhough, E. Monslow, W. Wheeldon, W. E.
Finch, H. J. Moody, A. S. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Foot, M. M. Morley, R. Wigg, George
Forman, J. C. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Wilkins, W. A.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morrison, RI. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Willey, F. T.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Moyle, A. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Gibson, C. W. Mulley, F. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Gooch, E, C. Murray, J. D. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Nally, W. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Grey, C. F. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Willis, E. G.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oliver, G. H. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hale, Leslie Orbach, M. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Oswald, T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hannan, W. Owen, W. J. Wyatt, W. L.
Hargreaves, A. Padley, W. E. Yates, V. F.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Hastings, S. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hayman, F. H. Palmer, A. M. F. Mr. William Wells and Mr. Snow.


That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (South-East Staffordshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.12 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Dudley and South Staffordshire) Order, 1954. a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order is purely to bring the boundary between Dudley and the neighbouring constituencies in Staffordshire into line with the recently-altered local government boundaries. I think the figures reveal that Bilston is reduced by about 1,600 and Rowley Regis by about 200 while there is an increase in Dudley of about 1,730. It is purely a technical matter.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I will not keep the House very long on this Order, and I certainly do not intend to ask my hon. Friends to go into the Division Lobby against it. As the Home Secretary said, this Order carries into effect the consequences of the passing of the Dudley Extension Act enacted just over a year ago. But I should be failing in my duty if I did not say that the Parliamentary constituency of Dudley is wholly acceptable to me personally as its Member of Parliament, but that nevertheless the biggest piece of nonsense that the Boundary Commission ever perpetrated was when it linked the county borough of Dudley and the municipal borough of Stourbridge, for they are separated by several miles of Staffordshire, and as far as I know there is nothing else like this situation anywhere in Great Britain.

I listened with great interest to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells). I noted that three or four times he fell back on the arguments about the athletic accomplishments of the Walsall Football Club. I am not going to rely upon the prowess of the Dudley or Stourbridge football clubs, Manchester, Stoke, or even Bishop Auckland.

I wish to point out that it was in Dudley that the Industrial Revolution started, and Dudley is left with the consequences of that fact. It has practically no sites on which to build houses and it has very limited areas indeed for school sites; therefore, it is put to tremendous expense in developing its essential services. It is landlocked; it is completely surrounded by Staffordshire.

The original proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) when he was Home Secretary envisaged the linking of Dudley and Sedgley, a sensible arrangement if the county borough of Dudley was not sufficiently large to form a Parliamentary constituency on its own. Those proposals went by the board, and then, simply because the Commission did not know what to do with a piece which was left over, it tacked Stourbridge on to Dudley. It is, of course, true that Dudley is the most highly-developed county borough in that part of the world. It is far ahead of Birmingham or Wolverhampton.

Mr. Percy Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

It even has a zoo.

Mr. Wigg

It is most progressive and yet it is most hampered as a result of what took place in the past. The area has a life and history of its own and a tremendous sense of community. Many of my hon. Friends know the area well, and know the fierce local patriotism between different districts. It seems to me that we are throwing into the discard these feelings of local loyalty in order to get mathematical precision.

I make no complaint about all this. I am happy to represent Dudley and Stourbridge. However, Dudley is landlocked and has reached the limits of its expansion. Its future is tied up with Staffordshire. Its only affinity with Worcestershire is its postal address, which happens to be "Dudley, Worcestershire." The Worcestershire County Cricket Club plays cricket in the county borough.

On the other hand, Stourbridge is at the beginning of its development. One day it will become an all-purpose authority and a county borough, but its future is tied up with that of Worcestershire. For no reason at all, except that it had a bit left over, the Commission performed this piece of monstrous nonsense linking Dudley and Stourbridge, with a big area of Staffordshire in between.

I should be very disappointed if the Order was not passed. From my point of view, the linking of the two county boroughs is acceptable, and I anticipate a very pleasant partnership between them and myself which will, I hope, go on for a very long time. Nevertheless, it seems to me to be a very unfortunate pattern if it is to be applied in other areas. I was a lone voice when I tried to persuade my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields to do something about this nonsense seven years ago. Nothing was then done. The result is that that approach to the problem has been continued in another boundary review, and unless we can get some change of heart and a new approach I am afraid that this sort of thing will continue.

I am quite cynical about it. I believe that in 18 months we shall have a Labour Government, but if my right hon. Friend were Home Secretary he would be giving exactly the same answers as the Home Secretary is giving tonight, because he is tied by the rules, which are exactly the same rules. It is quite impossible to alter the nonsense of linking Dudley and Stourbridge without affecting almost every constituency in the Midlands. Once one starts to play with one, one must play with another.

That is the consequence of what I call the mathematical approach. I want to get away from it, not only where these proposals are concerned, but in local government. I want to get right away. I make no party point, because this arrangement suits me admirably. But I very much hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has listened to the arguments which have come from both sides of the House. He is carrying out his duty as my right hon. Friend has carried out his duty in just as inflexible and indubitable a way. But I hope that he will realise that the consequence of this mathematical non-human, non-sympathetic approach, if it goes on, will be to kill local government. I very much hope that he will bear that in mind. When a new Parliament comes in, one of its first tasks will be to tackle this problem and the problem of local government with which it is tied.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I should not have spoken on this Order but for the reference to myself. There is a lot of history behind this Order and the linking of Dudley and Stour-bridge. Those of us who were taught geography in elementary schools when geography was really taught will know that Dudley used to appear in the map of Staffordshire with the same colour as that for Worcestershire. That was before county boroughs had been invented.

Dudley is a part of the lieutenancy of Worcestershire. In spite of what my hon. and gallant Friend has said, when I was Home Secretary I tried to get the lieutenancy altered. It is a very tricky job, and if the Home Secretary ever has any spare moments he might consider carrying on the work where I left it. I approached the authorities of Worcestershire, because Dudley, as a county borough, has no local government connection with Worcestershire except for the lieutenancy.

I was told that they did not mind what happened to Dudley so long as Dudley cricketers were eligible to play for Worcestershire. As in London one can be born in Balham or Bermondsey and play for Surrey, or anywhere in North London and play for Middlesex, I did not see that that could not be arranged. This is one of the historical anachronisms which has worked in a most peculiar way in this case. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it is the only one of these anomalies now left. At the same time I hope that Dudley, for Parliamentary purposes, can be linked with Staffordshire, of which it is a part, rather than with Worcestershire, which is several miles away.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Dudley and South Staffordshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.24 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Stoke on Trent) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order refers to Stoke-on-Trent and is similar to the one we have been discussing. In this case it slightly alters boundaries between three constituencies and brings them into line with recently altered ward boundaries. The figures involved are small and there is practically no alteration.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Stoke on Trent) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.25 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wolverhampton) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order is slightly different from the last two. It transfers one ward, the Park Ward, from Wolverhampton, North-East to Wolverhampton, South-West so as to reduce the discrepancy between the electorates of the two constituencies. The electorate of Wolverhampton, North-East is reduced from 61,338 to 55,745 and the electorate of Wolverhampton, South-West is increased from 50,287 to 55,880.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wolverhampton) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.26 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Croydon) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order alters the boundaries between the three constituencies in Croydon and changes their names. The effect is to reduce some quite serious discrepancies between the electorates. In 1953 in Croydon, East, the electorate was 66,600, in Croydon, North it was 63,000 and in Croydon, West it was 54,000. As a result of the proposed changes the electorates in the various constituencies will be 60,400, 61,300 and 61,800.

I understand that the Boundary Commissioners modified their original proposals to give effect to a proposal of the Croydon Borough Council for the exchange of two wards between the proposed North-East and North-West constituencies. I assume, therefore, that the borough council approve the recommendations in the Report. Some local interests put in alternative proposals but they were regarded as less satisfactory; one of them proposed splitting a ward. I feel that the House will agree with me that the Commissioners were justified in sticking to their proposals, which in fact do what was intended.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Croydon) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.28 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Kingston-upon-Thames, Surbiton and Wimbledon) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order creates a new borough constituency of Surbiton consisting of the Borough of Surbiton, which is now in the Kingston-upon-Thames constituency. Consequentially the Borough of Maiden and Coombe is transferred from Wimbledon to Kingston-upon-Thames. The Kingston-upon-Thames electorate was 74,000 which will be reduced to 62,000. Instead of the Wimbledon constituency of 76,000, there will be a Wimbledon constituency of 43,000 and a Surbiton constituency of 44,000.

The electorate of the geographical county of Surrey increased by about 19,000 between 1946 and 1953, and on the new basis resulting from the creation of 17 extra seats in 1948 the county is entitled to an extra seat. The existing 19 seats have an average electorate of 60,000, and the proposed 20 seats will have an average electorate of 57,000. Wimbledon and Kingston-upon-Thames have the two highest electorates of the existing constituencies in Surrey. It therefore seems right that the new constituency should be placed here.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will no doubt be aware that the Boundary Commissioners in their provisional proposals suggested far more extensive alterations in Surrey. These were objected to and a local inquiry was held. As a result, the Commissioners adopted the proposals in their Report. They were put forward by the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, and they were discussed at the inquiry.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Ede

This is all that is left of a very extensive series of alterations which were proposed in the County of Surrey, in which the eight constituencies that were first selected were to be made into nine. Now we have a position where two are to be made into three.

The original proposals were very complicated and intricate, and involved lopping wards off particular boroughs and adding them to others; dividing the borough of Beddington and Wallington into almost equal parts, putting one part with Mitcham and the other part with Carshalton. Considerable exception was taken to this proposal at the local inquiry. I understand that it was one of the fiercest of the local inquiries that were held, and the result was the alteration to the present proposals.

I cannot follow the logic of the arrangements which have now been made. Apparently the result of the inquiry was that it was decided that two of the existing municipal boroughs should be made into Parliamentary boroughs without any addition, and for that purpose Surbiton and Wimbledon were chosen. I cannot follow why Surbiton and Wimbledon should be chosen. I happen to be an honorary freeman of three Surrey boroughs. Wimbledon was the first borough to bestow the honorary freedom on me, then Epsom and Ewell, where I was born, and Mitcham, which I had the honour to represent in this House for a few months in 1923. I think that I can claim to know this area pretty well, having now lived there for over 70 years.

I should have thought that when the Boundary Commissioners were faced with this problem of having two new borough seats to distribute, they would have examined the electorates of the individual boroughs in the county. There are already two county districts which have a Member of Parliament without any addition of another county district; Sutton and Cheam, which had 59,483 electors in 1953, and Merton and Maiden Urban District, which had 55,474. Those are the two most populous county districts in the county.

The third most populous county district is Mitcham, which had 49,047 and the fourth is Epsom and Ewell, which had 44,936. Those were obviously the two at the head of the queue. Surbiton had only 44,481—I am quoting the 1953 figures—and Wimbledon, which had 43,980, is, in fact, seventh in the Order within the county.

Surbiton has 44,481 and Coulsdon and Purley have 44,385 and form, in fact, a growing county district, whereas Wimbledon is a declining county district. It had 43,980 in 1953 and 43,365 in 1954. I have not so much objection to Wimble- don getting a seat, but I cannot understand why Surbiton should get one. After all, Surbiton never made me a freeman, although I was not uninstrumental in getting it municipal borough powers. It comes behind Mitcham, which is a substantially bigger place, and also Epsom and Ewell.

I do not know how the minds of the Commissioners work when they get involved in problems of this sort, but it seems to me that the course which I have suggested would have been the proper one to pursue. I took the trouble to work out a scheme for the county whereby it would have been quite possible, without unduly increasing the size of any constituency, to arrange the county in such a way as to give the most populous districts the right to be represented by a Member of Parliament without the addition of wards from outside.

What happened at the inquiry undoubtedly affected the minds of the Commissioners, because they made a most substantial alteration—I think the most substantial made anywhere—as a result of that inquiry. I am bound to say that I cannot follow the logic which gives the less populous county districts the right to separate Parliamentary representation when places as well defined as Mitcham and Surbiton are passed over. In the recollection of having represented that town when it was part of a much wider constituency than it is even now, I think that we ought to have some explanation of how this result was arrived at.

10.38 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

With the leave of the House, I wish to answer the right hon. Gentleman. I think that he has made a very fair point, but in this part of the world the Commission was, of course, faced with something of a difficult problem. It was a jig-saw puzzle, with pieces of unequal and, very often, of awkward shape and size.

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that the first consideration should be to take the largest local government area. Obviously, the first consideration should be to take those constituencies which are nearing the upper level. As I pointed out before, we have these two adjacent constituencies, both of which are around the 75,000 mark.

I think that it was a reasonable and proper thing to say that they ought not to be left intact. If we were to change what is proposed, it would not be possible to do the kind of thing that the right hon. Gentleman suggests. He has asked why, if Surbiton and Wimbledon are both to be constituencies on their own, the Borough of Mitcham, which has a larger electorate—the right hon. Gentleman said 49,000—should not also be a constituency on its own.

Mr. Ede

I did not say "should not also." As the hon. Gentleman says, it was a jig-saw puzzle. They have just smashed up the two biggest pieces without considering how they could have rearranged the various county districts in order to give the two most populous the opportunity of being separate boroughs.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I quite appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman says. I realise that it is an alternative and not an addition to the other proposal.

The answer is that Mitcham is at present combined with Beddington and Wallington to form a constituency, and this borough of Beddington and Wallington has an electorate of 24,000. That could not be transferred to either of the

neighbouring constituencies of Carshalton and East Surrey, both of which already have electorates of over 60,000. At least, I have no doubt that it could be done, but only if one were, in turn, to break up those constituencies. In other words, the kind of scheme which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind would really have involved one of these very elaborate reorganisations. As he himself has pointed out on this and other occasions, that is not a thing to be welcomed by any of those concerned.

Exactly the same considerations apply to the Borough of Epsom and Ewell. That borough has 44,000 electors, and is combined with Leatherhead urban district, which has 25,000 electors. If one were to take that out and put it somewhere else—it cannot stand by itself—it would involve further alterations extending, possibly, further afield. Whatever one does there is some difficulty. I think the proposal which was put forward by the Epsom and Ewell Council is, on the whole, the best, and I do recommend it to the House.

Question put: —

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 161.

Division No. 25.] AYES [10.42 p.m
Aitken, W. T. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Alport, C. J. M. Duthie, W. S. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J Errington, Sir Eric Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Armstrong, C. W. Fell, A. Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Fisher, Nigel Hurd, A. R.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Fletcher-Cooke, C. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Astor, Hon. J. J Ford, Mrs. Patricia Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Baldwin, A. E. Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Bank., Col. C. Gammans, L. D. Johnson, Eric (Blackly)
Barber, Anthony Garner-Evans, E. H Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W
Barlow, Sir John Glover, D. Kaberry, D.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Godber, J. B. Kerby, Capt. H. B
Bennett, F M. (Reading, N.) Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Kerr, H. W.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Gower, H. R Lambert, Hon. G
Birch, Nigel Graham, Sir Fergus Langford-Holt, J. A
Bishop, F. P. Gresham Cooke, R. Leather, E. H. C.
Black, C. W. Grimond, J. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Bossom, Sir A. C. Hall, John (Wycombe) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hare, Hon. J. H. Lindsay, Martin
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Linstead, Sir H. N.
Brooman-White, R. C. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Llewellyn, D. T.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E)
Bullard, D. G. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G
Campbell, Sir David Heath, Edward Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Cary, Sir Robert Henderson, John (Catheart) Longden, Gilbert
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Higgs, J. M. C. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Crouch, R. F. Hirst, Geoffrey MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S) Holland-Martin, G. J Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Davidson, Viscountess Hollis, M. C. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hon. Sir Reginald
Deedes, W. F. Holt, A. F Markham, Major Sir Frank
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Marlowe, A. A. H.
Marples, A. E. Profumo, J. D Studholme, H. G.
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Raikes, Sir Victor Summers, G. S.
Maude, Angus Ramsden, J. E. Sumner, W. D. M.
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C Rayner, Brig. R Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Medlicott, Brig F. Redmayne, M. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Mellor, Sir John Rees-Davies, W R Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Molson, A. H. E. Renton, D. L. M. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Tilney, John
Nabarro, G. D. N. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool S) Touche, Sir Gordon
Neave, Airey Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Turner, H. F. L
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Roper, Sir Harold Turton, R. H.
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Vane, W. M. F.
Nield, Basil (Chester) Ryder, Capt R. E. D. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Oakshott, H. D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W Vosper, D. F.
Odey, G. W. Scott, R. Donald Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N). Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Ormsdy-Gore, Hon. W. D. Sharples, Maj. R. C Wall, Major Patrick
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Shepherd, William Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Osborne, C Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Page, R. G. Snadden, W. McN. Wellwood, W.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M Soames, Capt. C. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Peyton, J. W. W Speir, R. M. Williams R. Dudley (Exeter)
Pickthorn, K. W. M Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wills, G
Pitman, I. J. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pitt, Miss E. M Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Powell, J. Enoch Storey, S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O L Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Mr. T.G.D.Galbraith and
Mr. Richard Thompson.
Acland, Sir Richard Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hayman, F. H. Pannell, Charles
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Pargiter, G. A.
Awbery, S. S. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Parker, J.
Bacon, Miss Alice Herbison, Miss M. Pearson, A.
Baird, J. Hewitson, Capt. M Peart, T. F.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Holman, P. Plummer, Sir[...]
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hoy, J. H. Popplewell, E.
Bing, G. H. C. Hubbard, T. F. Porter, G.
Blackburn, F. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Blenkinsop, A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Blyton, W. R. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W)
Boardman, H. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Probert, A. R.
Bowles, F. G. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Proctor, W. T.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Reeves, J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D Janner, B. Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.
Burke, W. A. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Carmichael, J. Jeger, George (Goole) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Champion, A. J. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras N.)
Chetwynd, G. R Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Coldrick, W. Johnson, James (Rugby) Ross, William
Collick, P. H. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Shackleton, E. A. A.
Collins, V. J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Silverman, Juiius (Erdington)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Keenan, W. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Crosland, C. A. R. Kenyon, C. Skeffington, A. M.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Lewis, Arthur Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lindgren, G. S. Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Logan, D, G. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Davies, Harold (Leek) MacColl, J. E. Sparks, J. A.
de Freitas, Geoffrey McInnes, J. Steele, T.
Deer, G. McLeavy, F. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Sylvester, G. O.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Manuel, A. C. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mellish, R. J. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Fernyhough, E. Mitchison, G. R Thornton, E.
Finch, H. J. Monslow, W. Timmons, J
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Moody, A. S. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Foot, M. M. Morley, R. Wallace, H. W.
Forman, J. C. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Warbey, W. N.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moyle, A. Watkins, T. E
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mulley, F. W Weitzmann, D.
Gibson, C. W. Murray, J. D. Wells, William (Walsall)
Gooch, E. G. Nally, W. West, D. G
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Wheeldon, W. E.
Grey, C. F. Oswald, T. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Padley, W. E. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hannan, W. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Wilkins, W A.
Hargreaves, A. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Willey, F. T
Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery) Wilson, Rt Hon. Harold (Huyton) Yates, V F.
Williams, Ronald (Wigan) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
William., W R (Droyltden) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Willis, E G. Wyatt W. L. Mr. Bowden and Mr Holmes

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Kingston-upon-Thames, Surbiton and Wimbledon) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.50 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Sussex) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. The Order refers to the creation of a new constituency in Sussex, which will be called Rye and will consist of parts of the Hastings Division, part of the Eastbourne Division and parts of the Lewes and East Grinstead Divisions. It will consist of the Borough of Bexhill, now in the Eastbourne Division, of Rye, now in the Hastings Division, and of the rural district of Battle and part of the rural district of Hailsham, now in the Eastbourne and Lewes constituencies. In consequence, part of the Hailsham rural district will be transferred from Lewes to Eastbourne.

In addition to the creation of a new constituency, there will be slight alterations in the Brighton constituencies to bring them into line with the recently-altered local government boundaries. The Order also slightly alters the boundaries of East Grinstead, Lewes and Harsham to bring them into line with the recently-altered county boundary between East and West Sussex.

I will not weary the House by going through each individual figure to show the effect of the Order on the electorate, but I will give the averages. The electorate of East Sussex increased by about 13,000 between 1946 and 1953. The new basis, resulting from the creation of the additional seats last time, entitles them to another seat, because the total electorate in 1953 was 457,000 and the existing seats gave an average electorate of 65,000. The creation of the new seat, now proposed, will reduce the average electorate to 56,700.

The existing constituencies in this part of England have rather high electorates for county constituencies, particularly Eastbourne, and have fairly large areas.

The Commissioners were, I am sure, right in saying that this is where a new constituency should be created. The proposals in the Report differ from the original recommendations as a result of representations made. I gather that all are now satisfied with the present proposals and I hope that the House will approve them.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Sussex) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

10.55 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Birmingham and North Warwickshire) Order. 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order creates a new county constituency of Meriden from parts of the existing Nuneaton and Sutton Coldfield constituencies. It will consist of the rural district of Atherstone, which is now in Nuneaton, and the rural districts of Meriden and Tamworth, which are now in Sutton Coldfield. Consequentially the Erdington ward of Birmingham is transferred to Sutton Coldfield and the Birmingham constituencies are re-arranged. The effect on the constituencies, apart from those in Birmingham, will be that instead of the two present constituencies of Nuneaton and Sutton Coldfield, each with something over 71,000 electors, there will be three constituencies of Nuneaton, Sutton Coldfield and Meriden with 54,000, 58,000 and 52,000 respectively.

The Sutton Coldfield constituency becomes a borough constituency instead of a county constituency because of the loss of its rural districts. The electorate of the geographical county of Warwickshire went up nearly 22,000 between 1946 and 1953, and on the new basis of the number of seats with the 17 extra seats created in 1948 it is entitled to an extra seat; that is to say, the existing 22 seats give an average electorate of 58,700 and the proposed 23 seats will give an average of 56,200.

Of the seats in the county, Sutton Cold-field and Nuneaton have the largest electorates and, therefore, it seems right that the new constituency should be created from these for the same reasons as in the other case we have just discussed. Some rearrangement of the Birmingham constituencies would presumably have been necessary in any event because the electorate of the Stetchford Division of Birmingham reached over 80,000 in 1954. The electorates of Ladywood and Yardley conversely dropped below 50,000.

The Boundary Commission proposals for Birmingham involved the detaching of the Erdington ward from Birmingham. The reason is that Sutton Coldfield has too small an electorate to be a constituency by itself. It has only 35,500 and lies between Birmingham and the county boundary. It is, therefore, impractical to combine it with anything except a part of Birmingham without creating a very awkward constituency. If, for example, it were combined with the rural district of Tamworth—and here I am sure the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), whom I see in his place, will agree with me—the result would be unsatisfactory. It is because of these considerations that it has been found necessary to make the alterations proposed within the city of Birmingham.

11 p.m.

Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Birmingham. Aston)

The trouble with large cities like Birmingham—and it is the second largest city in the United Kingdom—is that they are a permanent temptation to Boundary Commissions because the number of combinations that can be got out of the rearrangement of constituencies is almost unlimited. So if there is rearrangement needed, or thought to be needed, in a county, it is always an amusing exercise for the Commissioners to practice their jig-saw art on a large city like Birmingham, even if they do so for a reason external to Birmingham itself, as in this case. The reason for the reshuffling of the constituencies in Birmingham has nothing to do with Birmingham, although the Minister suggested weakly that there might be some need for reorganisation there. The reason was that it was desired to give an extra county seat to Warwickshire.

Let us take the position of Birmingham itself. There were 13 seats. Eight of them were within 5,000 of the quotient laid down for the county. What the Boundary Commission has done is to rearrange 11 of the seats, not five, as the correct number would have been. The Commissioners finished up with two seats in Birmingham still outside the quotient by 5,000. One of those two seats, Perry Barr, was outside it before, and they never touched it. They rearranged 11 seats to remedy the situation in five, but left alone one of the five whose position was supposed to be remedied.

When one starts interfering in this way with constituency boundaries in a great city like Birmingham, it sets up waves across the city which destroy communities and attempts to build up some kind of individual spirit in wards and districts and constituencies. It cannot help doing that. It is more difficult in a city like Birmingham to keep individual community feelings alive than it is in county or rural areas. It is always a great struggle among the shapeless streets to keep individuality alive.

I am naturally concerned—especially with my constituency. I have a personal interest which I do not hesitate to declare. My constituency is Aston. It has a long and ancient history which has been brought to a close, as I shall show in a moment, by the Boundary Commissioners. Aston was described in the Doomsday Book as being a rather larger place than Birmingham. It had 44 tenants. Only nine were listed for Birmingham. Aston was of a great deal higher value, being rated at 144 shillings, whatever that may have meant at the time, against Birmingham's 20 shillings. That shows that it was five times more important. For a long time it remained more important, but latterly it has been fighting a somewhat losing battle against encroachment by Birmingham. It only lost its mayor in 1911. It lost its tramways at the same time, and its different public services.

The division in its present form was created in 1885. Even the present Aston Division has a fairly long history so far as Parliamentary constituencies are concerned, and was composed of Aston and Lozells. In its present basic form it had, in 1949, a third ward added to it. It has long fought for its independence and many times refused union with Birmingham. It can still show its individuality.

It has the only beautiful building in Birmingham in it, Aston Hall, a fine Carolean mansion with the park surrounding it. There is nothing else remotely like it in Birmingham.

It also has, as I am reminded by my hon. Friends—if that were necessary— Aston Villa Football Club. It is not my intention to describe the fortunes of the Aston Villa Football Club, but, at any rate, it has made Aston world-famous. It always manages to maintain its place in the First Division whatever the Commissioners attempt to do with Aston itself.

What has happened now? The Commission has looked at Birmingham and sought to extinguish the last few sparks of individuality and sense of community that there are in Aston. It has split the constituency three ways. It has put one ward of it into the Erdington Division, another ward into the Handsworth Division—so the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply will receive one ward—and another ward has been put into the Ladywood Division.

It has not been done with any great skill or apparent knowledge of the locality. The Commission took no notice of the traditions or history of the place. It began by putting the Aston Conservative Club outside the new Aston Division, which is really the old Erdington Division, and that is a great shame. One feels some sympathy with the Conservatives on this point. Even worse than that, it does not contain the Aston Labour Club either, and that indeed is a worse shame. It may not seem very serious in some respects, but old associations with both those clubs and centres have been built up over a very long period of time, and it is very discouraging and disappointing to people connected with both organisations.

The old council house of Aston has now been removed from the Aston Division altogether. The last vestige of Aston's fight for independence against Birmingham has been entirely extinguished. The ancient association between the Aston ward and the Lozells ward has been shattered.

The Commissioners have succeeded in their campaign to kill Aston and destroy other divisions in Birmingham. This raises a very serious issue because what they have in effect done is to take the citizens of Birmingham and treat them all as numbers and not as voters connected with a certain constituency or Member of Parliament. It has sometimes been argued that hon. Members ought to try to live in their own constituencies; but how could an hon. Member do that in Birmingham? He would never know what his constituency was from one Commission to the next, and he would continually be moving house.

All the old associations which have been built up over a long period of time have been completely shattered by the indiscriminate and bureaucratic use of the Commission's powers, which regards voters not as having any sense of individuality or as belonging to any community at all, but simply as numbers, as if they were numbers in a football pool to be permutated in any combination at the desire of the Commission.

For these reasons, I wanted to utter a word of protest about the unfeeling work of the Commissioners. And I want to say goodbye to what has been my constituency for 10 years.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Birmingham and North Warwickshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

11.10 p.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Yorkshire, East Riding) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order removes the urban district of Haltemprice from Kingston-upon-Hull. It redivides Kingston-upon-Hull into three instead of four constituencies. It abolishes the Beverley constituency. It creates a new county constituency of Haltemprice consisting of Haltemprice urban district, the Borough of Beverley and the rural district of Beverley, which is now in the Beverley constituency, and it creates a new Howden county constituency consisting of the remainder of the existing Beverley constituency together with Driffield Urban District and Driffield Rural District, now in the Bridlington constituency.

Haltemprice was included in one of the Kingston-upon-Hull constituencies in 1948 because the Local Government Boundary Commission had provisionally decided that it should be included in the county borough. This decision has not been carried into effect and, accordingly, it seems right that, in accordance with the rule requiring that, so far as practicable, no constituency should be shared between a county borough and another local government area, the urban district should be separated from Kingston-upon-Hull.

The other changes appear to be substantially consequential upon this change. Local government boundaries are respected and the proposed constituencies seem reasonably satisfactory, numerically and geographically.

11.12 p.m.

Mr. George Odey (Beverley)

These proposals, so far as they affect the East Riding of Yorkshire, have aroused the most acute dissatisfaction. The reason is not far to seek, if the House will recall that it was little more than five years ago in the 1948 and 1949 Acts that this very large area was entirely reorganised. The old constituencies of Buckrose, Holder-ness and Howdenshire disappeared, and there was a major reorganisation of the whole area.

It has been said many times in the course of these discussions that there should not be a change in these boundaries unless there is a sound, overriding cause. I put it to the Home Secretary that in this case there was no overriding reason for such a major reorganisation. If one looks at the present electorate, there is only one division, Hull, North, where any real difficulty arises, and I suggest that with a constituency of 49,000 that was no real problem.

But in order to change Hull, North from 49,012 to the new constituency of Hull, North with 67,983, it has been necessary to rive up the whole of the East Riding of Yorkshire. I understood that it was the desire of the Commission to give some assistance in rural areas where the area to be covered is extensive. The best way to give that aid is to leave the large areas alone and not to disturb them unless absolutely necessary.

Hon. Members are called upon in the discharge of their Parliamentary duties to establish an acquaintance with their constituents which was not necessary to anything like the same degree in the old days. On occasion we act as friend, counsellor and guide to our constituents and face a multitude of problems. In a large rural area, it is a task in itself to become widely known and to gain the confidence of one's constituents. I speak with considerable feeling, and, I think, with some objectivity, in that I do not propose to offer myself for re-election at the next General Election. I take the opportunity to make these remarks because, when alterations have to be made in future, I trust that the need for continuity in rural areas will receive more consideration from the Commission than it has had on the last two occasions.

Let us consider precisely what will happen, and remember that this is the second time in five years. The great City of Hull is to lose a Member. Surely that in itself is a matter for regret. To satisfy the position in Haltemprice, the ancient Borough of Beverley is to be ripped away from its present constituency which bears its name and is to be joined with Haltemprice. The town of Drifneld is to be removed from its natural hinterland in the Bridlington division and transferred to a new division called Howden. I suggest that changes of that size and character completely disrupt the political life of a very large area.

I wish to refer to another matter which is of greater importance than the Commission is prepared to agree—the question of name. If these changes are to be made, surely in the name there must be some respect for history and tradition. For instance, there is the proposed new constituency of Howden. To that is to be added the town of Drifneld. I submit that there is a strong argument for calling the new constituency Howden and Driffield. There are precedents for a double name in the North. There is the constituency of Scarborough and Whitby and that of Thirsk and Malton.

Apart from that, in this new division which is to be called Howden, Driffield is the largest centre of population. In the Driffield urban and rural district it covers roughly a quarter of the whole of the new division. Lastly, and I should have thought this a point worthy of consideration, Driffield used to be the old political centre of the Buckrose division. It was in Driffield that the poll was announced. Surely, when it is borne in mind that there are some 35 to 40 miles between Howden and Driffield—they are each on the extremities of the new division—there must be a good case for embodying them geographically in the name. When people go to the poll, they want to be able to feel that they are voting in their geographical area. It gives an added sense of responsibility and homogeneity to the nature of the representation.

While I am dealing with names and history, is it not indeed remarkable that the Commission should have had the temerity to propose that in joining Haltemprice to Beverley they should proceed to call it Haltemprice? Beverley is a town which sent a Member of Parliament to the first Model Parliament in 1295 and continued to be represented in this House until 1307. Then, in 1562, Beverley was restored with two Members. I am sorry to say that there was a certain amount of jiggery-pokery, because the electors eventually got down to 40, and Beverley was disfranchised for corrupt practices. Of course, we all know that no such thing could occur today; but whether the representation has been improved by this alteration it is not for me to say.

The fact remains that Beverley was once again restored, and that historic name returned to this House as a result of the recommendations of the Boundary Commission in the 1948 and 1949 Acts. It is now proposed that this historic name should again be removed. What are the reasons why it is proposed that instead of Beverley the name of Haltemprice should be used? May I give the House the figures of the new Haltemprice division. The Beverley borough has an electorate of 10,954. The Beverley rural district has an electorate of 13,358. Against that, the Haltemprice urban district has a total electorate of 26,197, which gives an approximate majority of 1,500 to Haltemprice. But one must go farther than that, because Haltemprice itself is composed of a number of communities. The representation of the community is the point which I am endeavouring to make. As far as Haltemprice is concerned, it is made up of Cottingham with 7,600 electors. Kirk Ella and Anlaby with 4,431, Willerby with 4,494, and Hessle with 9,631.

In this new division there are going to be a number of communities joined together quite artificially, and the historic name of Beverley is, apparently, to be abandoned. In its place is to be substituted the name of Haltemprice, which was the name of a priory which was established in the middle of the fourteenth century. When some 25 years ago the new urban district council was formed, no one could agree as to what it should be called. As a result, the East Riding County Council selected the name of this priory.

How anyone charged with settling the bounds of Parliamentary divisions in this country and with making recommendations as to names can pass over a name which, as I have said, appeared in the Model Parliament of 1295, and can prefer instead the name of a priory, I am incapable of comprehending. I realise my right hon. and gallant Friend's difficulty in withdrawing Orders which have been brought forward as a result of an Act which this Government inherited, but I trust that he will at least be able to do something about the name.

11.28 p.m.

Mr. W. R. A. Hudson (Hull, North)

As my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey) has said so forcefully, the proposals covered by this Order have caused dissatisfaction, not only in the City of Hull, but throughout the whole East Riding. It is no exaggeration to say that there was complete consternation throughout the East Riding when the proposals were first published.

The present distribution was fixed in 1948. The proposals made at that time were in some respects similar to those in this Order, but they were rejected or revised after the holding of a most exhaustive inquiry. The present boundaries have worked well. As far as I know, there have been no complaints from the public, from the local authorities, or, indeed, from any of the political parties.

Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley, I am a little affected in this matter, and, therefore, I am perhaps a little reluctant to speak on the matter. However, because of the very great dissatisfaction felt in the city, and particularly on account of the loss of one of the four seats which we have had since 1918, I am afraid that I cannot be quite so accommodating as my hon. Friend. I see no reason whatever why some of these Orders, and particularly this one, should not be withdrawn for re-consideration. Even at this late stage, I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend to consider my arguments and to take back the Order.

I ask this on three grounds. First, because there are no reasonable grounds for any alteration in the present distribution of seats; secondly, within the East Riding the total number of seats remain unchanged whether or not the status quo is preserved. There is, therefore, no effect beyond the confines of the Riding, and no effect upon the number of seats in the country in general. Finally, the proposed changes are wholly bad for the Riding in general and for the City of Kingston-upon-Hull in particular.

Hull, with its increasing population, its boundaries tending to expand, and its increasing importance as the third port of the United Kingdom, is to lose one of the four seats which it has had since 1918. I may say that Hull is not one of the boroughs which was given favourable treatment in the redistribution of 1948. In other words, the electorate was not then given the favourable treatment to which reference has been made.

I want now to examine this loss of a seat to Kingston-upon-Hull. In detaching Haltemprice from Hull the Commission has made proposals entirely contrary to the proposals for cities such as Bradford and Leicester. There, in each case, two urban districts have been added in order to allow for four Members. The position of those places will then be precisely the same as that in Hull today, which it is proposed to change for no logical reason whatever. The recommendations are therefore not only inconsistent but conflicting.

In Bradford, with the addition of the two urban districts, there will be an electorate of 226,000. In Leicester, with the two urban districts added, there will be an electorate of 220,000. The electorate of Hull with Haltemprice is today 229,000. Those figures are therefore quite comparable, but the Commission is recommending that Hull should be deprived of 26,000 electors so reducing the figure to 203,000. The Commission is thus doing precisely the reverse of what it is doing at Leicester and Bradford.

To deprive Hull of one of its four seats is even more damaging than I have so far described. Hull is a somewhat detached city. It is most essential that the community should be well contained, and the urban district of Haltemprice undoubtedly forms part of that community. Its detachment is quite out of harmony with the facts. As has been said, in 1947 the Local Government Boundary Corn-mission drew attention to the close affinity of Haltemprice with Hull, and the fact that Haltemprice has not yet been taken into the City of Kingston-upon-Hull surely does not affect that argument at all. Since the Boundary Commission made the remarks referred to there has been no change in the circumstances, except, possibly, changes which would support the status quo.

There has been some increase in the population, and only in December the corporation received notification from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that they have agreed to the city extending its boundaries to the East by mutual agreement with the East Riding County Council. So it will be seen that the figures with which the Boundary Commission's recommendations have been made are really completely out of date, and by increasing its boundaries to the East, the unbalance which the Commission's recommendations will cause will be aggravated, and without a very long delay.

Finally, I should like again to emphasise the fact that the present distribution is necessary in order to preserve the homogeneity of the district and to bring Haltemprice within the county to which it rightly belongs, that Hull should not be deprived of one of the four seats which it has held since 1918, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider this matter.

11.36 p.m.

Mr. Skeffington

I feel that a word ought to be said from this side in support of the eloquent pleas that have been made by hon. Members who are so intimately connected with the area which is the subject of this Order. I shall speak very briefly, and only do so because this particular proposal seems to be one of the more remarkable efforts of the Boundary Commission which apparently the Government are prepared to support.

If one takes the City of Kingston-upon-Hull, it has more than 203,000 electors, so the very worst that might be said is that the present four seats have an electoral average of only 50,000-plus. I suppose the Commission here, as elsewhere, has adopted its usual artificial method—not authorised in the Act—of dividing its arithmetical quota, its English average, into this particular county division, and so has come to the conclusion that a seat has got to be lost somewhere. What is the result?

The Commission itself now creates three constituencies in the Kingston-upon-Hull area of 67,000. That is no less than 10,000 above their own English average, and actually 12,000 above the quota for Great Britain, which is specified in the Act as being the desirable average for constituencies. I think this wants a great deal of explanation. I do not know where the political advantage will lie, but that does not matter; here is the Commission itself, whose duty it is to suggest ways of correcting anomalies, actually creating three constituencies whose average electorate will be 12,000 above the quota for Great Britain. Again it does prove this can, in fact, only be done by proceeding to divide its unauthorised formula into county by county, where one has a large county with a great number of electors.

If one goes next door, into Cumberland, one finds that the four existing constituencies there average only 48,000, but no reduction is suggested there because it would create seats even larger than this one. I think this is a classic example of how, adopting the artificial formula as the Commission has done, one gets large, new constituencies so much above the average. I should have thought that the Home Secretary might have considered looking at this Order, whatever might be the political consequences, which ought not to determine whether hon. Members support an Order of this sort.

11.40 p.m.

Major Patrick Wall (Hull, Haltem-price)

It would be wrong for me to elaborate all the arguments against this Order which have been already made by my hon. Friends. I will, therefore, confine myself to saying that I fully support the points raised by them, and would just underline one or two of the salient argu- ments against the Order. First in importance is that the City of Kingston-upon-Hull will lose a quarter of its Parliamentary representation at a time when the population of that city is increasing.

Under the proposals, the electorate of the City of Kingston-upon-Hull—roughly 203,000—will elect three Members of Parliament. In the East Riding constituencies, an electorate of 149,600 will elect three Members. In other words, 58 per cent, in the city and 42 per cent. in the East Riding will each elect three Members. That seems unreasonable, particularly when we remember that a large number of people residing in the urban district of Haltemprice work in the City of Kingston-upon-Hull and use many of the amenities provided by that city.

The last point I want to make on the question of the representation of the city is that the proposals in the Order may be mathematically correct this year but will, I am sure, result in a mathematical unbalance in the very near future, perhaps in two or three years' time, as the population of the eastern area of Hull is increasing day by day. If we are to observe the Commission's mathematical principles, a further redistribution of the three new divisions will be necessary in the not-too-distant future.

Lastly, may I reinforce the point made so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey) regarding the name of the new constituency if the Order is passed. I know I speak for many of the citizens of Haltemprice when I say that, in view of the historical importance and interest of the name of Beverley, the new constituency should embrace the names of both Haltemprice and Beverley.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. Foot

I rise only because no Minister rose to reply. We have had three speeches from hon. Members opposite protesting in the most vigorous terms against the Order and we have had an argument from this side of the House which was, I should have thought, an overwhelming statistical argument against it. But apparently the two Ministers who are listening to the debate proposed that the Order should go through without a reply being made to hon. Members opposite.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth


Mr. Foot

If I am mistaken, I am glad to hear that we are to have a reply. If that is so, perhaps I may be given an answer on this occasion to some of my questions, which I will put in with the others. I am sorry if I was mistaken, but it appeared to me that the Ministers did not intend to reply. I hope hon. Members opposite will express some gratitude to me if I have ensured that a Minister replies.

Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Foot

I am glad to have the hon. Member's support. He must have discovered that the House of Commons is a very different place from when he left it. He enters the House to find himself in the thick of a rebellion. He can hardly listen to any of the debates on these Orders without discovering that, one after another, hon. Members opposite are protesting in most vigorous terms against what is being done by the Government. No one knows what they propose to do about it.

There is an enormously strong case in Hull, because presumably part of the reason for Hull being deprived of a Member of Parliament is the blitz. Hull suffered greatly during the blitz, which affected its population. I have no doubt that the average figure would have been about 53,000–54,000 had it not been for the blitz and the fact that Hull has not since recovered its full population. If that had been the figure, the Commission would not have been able to deprive Hull of one of its Members of Parliament in order to alter the figure which makes the difference between the quotient throughout the country and the figure allowed in the City of Hull. I should have thought that hon. Members who come from that part of the world would at least be prepared to go into the Lobby to vote against the Order which deprives Hull of one of its Members.

One hon. Member asked in a rather surprised tone why Hull was not being treated in the same way as Leicester and Bradford. The hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. W. R. A. Hudson) nods his head, but if he had been here for the other debates which have taken place on other Orders he would not be so surprised. Why should he think that Leicester and Bradford should have the same rules applied to them as Hull? Why does he think that the Boundary Commission applies the same rules to one part of the country as to another? Why should he think that the Government are worrying about applying similar rules to similar places in different parts of the country?

We have heard the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) prove conclusively that, even if there were rules that could apply all over the country, the Commission has broken them, and, therefore, it is a waste of time for hon. Gentlemen to come along after we have debated 30 or 40 of these Orders and put innocent questions about the same rules not being applied in one part of the country as in another part. They should know by now that this is done on a purely arbitrary basis, on the basis that the rules are not applied and that if they were being applied the Minister is not going to make any attempt to explain them.

I hope hon. Members opposite will realise that the procedure being adopted in the case of Hull is in one sense precisely the same as for other parts of the country, in the sense that it has not been explained and cannot be explained to the House of Commons by the Government. If hon. Gentleman opposite who have spoken so eloquently on this matter really believe what they say, they ought to be prepared to vote against this Government on the Order, and certainly on the question of the change of name. It is an outrage that names of this character should be treated in this fashion by the Commission.

I do not know whether they had a public inquiry on this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Apparently they had a public inquiry, and in that case I am afraid hon. Members did not put their case there as eloquently as they did here. At any rate, I hope they have better luck with the Minister than with the Commission. I do not think they have very much chance from the procedure that we had on previous occasions.

Here is another example of the case in which hon. Members opposite have apparently applied their minds to the problem and have discovered what the facts are. They appear at this stage to say, "There are no grounds al all for what is being done here," and yet time after time we have heard them saying that but they are not prepared to take any action in the Lobby. The whole thing trundles onwards, and we all know what is happening. The issue has been decided in advance. If we debated these Orders at much greater length than we have discussed them, it would not make a scrap of difference, because the Minister has laid it down that unless the Boundary Commission can be proved to have broken the rules, then he is going to adopt its proposals.

It is quite an untenable position which should never have been claimed by any Home Secretary, and if it is going to be persisted in and if there is going to be no challenge to it from hon. Members on the Government side of the House, what will be the result? It will mean that the Boundary Commission in the future more than in the past will have almost absolute power. It will think that if it passes any proposals and pretends to abide by the rules, then it will be able to decide the boundaries of the constituencies of this country.

It is my view that the boundaries for the constituencies of this country and the way in which they are decided affect the nation's whole democratic principle and that the responsibility rests clearly upon the Home Secretary. He has discharged his duty throughout the whole of this affair in a most unworthy and improper fashion.

11.49 p.m.

Major Lloyd-George

Once again the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) has made an attack upon me and the Commission. What he has done really is to criticise the Act, and when he refers to the responsibility for the proper representation of the people of this country, then I say that that is a responsibility which is laid on Parliament. I take it that that was the purpose of the Act, of which these rules form part, when it was produced in 1946. Its purpose was the redistribution of seats. I have maintained all through that, unless it can be shown that the rules which Parliament laid down have been departed from in a way never intended by Parliament, there seems to be no good reason for not accepting the recommendations. Certain limits have been laid down to which the Commissioners had to work.

It has been suggested that the Commissioners have taken absolute power; but the only power they have is the power the House has given them. It may be, as has been stated on more than one occasion during our discussions here, that we have doubts about certain parts of the Act. There are two to which I have referred, and two which have been often mentioned, namely, numerical equality and frequency of revision. These, in my judgment, are points of great substance. It is for Parliament, in due course, to say what alteration it thinks should be made, if any. That must be done by legislation. For the time being, I have consistently stuck to the point that, unless there is departure from the rules, we should accept the recommendations.

In the case we are discussing, I must point out that the rule says that, so far as practicable, the Commissioners must not link a borough with another part of the county. Here is a case where that was not necessary. My recollection is that it was recommended by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1948 that Haltemprice should be included in the county borough, but that was never carried out.

Let me turn to a point made by my hon Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey), which seemed to go against the argument he was putting forward. He was saying how difficult it is to represent the larger rural areas. Those who have had experience of this will agree with him. But the Commission does make that task so much simpler with its proposals for areas which had 64,000, 60,000, or 62,000 electors.

Regarding names, I confess to some difficulty. I am not sure that I have not some bias against double names for constituencies, although there are quite a few. They are cumbersome, and personally I find them difficult to remember on occasions in the House. In general, where a constituency consists of a large number of local government areas, it is reasonable to give the constituency the name of the area having the largest number of electors.

Reference was made to Beverley. One hon. Member gave an interesting history of the constituency name and said that he was a great believer in continuity. I did not gather, however, that there has been a great deal of continuity so far as Beverley goes, because he said that in its first period it lasted for 12 years only. The name, I gather, disappeared for 260 years. I would remind the hon. Member that for many years before 1948 Beverley was not the name of the constituency. I appreciate his point that it is an old and pleasant name, but his figures showed that the majority of electors in the constituency are in Haltemprice urban district, which is bigger than the borough of Beverley and Beverley rural district together. So, while I very much appreciate his point, I think it is a perfectly good rule to apply, and I do not see why it should not be applied.

With regard to the division of Howden, he mentioned Driffield. In the old days—though not so very old—for about 34 years there were three county divisions in the East Riding called Buckrose, Holderness and Howdenshire. As regards the Howden constituency which is proposed here, the Howden rural district has nearly 14,000 of the 53,000 electors, Driffield urban district—which he said was the centre of the constituency or, anyway, where the poll was declared—has under 5,000 and Driffield rural district just over 7,000. Further, the constituency will include other urban and rural districts.

While, of course, any decision as to a name is arbitrary, we can say that Howden does, in effect, revive the old name of Howdenshire, and it does not appear that Driffield has any special claim. Though I have every sympathy with the hon. Member on this matter, I do not think that any great harm is done by the name suggested by the Commission.

Mr. Skeffington

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give some justification for the creation of three new constituencies each of which is 12,000 above the quota laid down in the Act for Great Britain?

Major Lloyd-George

There are several rural constituencies at the moment in the country which have 70,000. The Commission had to take into account the geographical situation and so forth. I do not think anybody will suggest that three seats of 67,000 inside a borough is an excessive number. There are several cases of that sort.

11.58 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I do not know what the three hon. Gentlemen who spoke from the other side of the House feel about the speech that we have just heard and whether they think that they have been answered appropriately or not, but I do not think it was an answer to the case which they put.

I agree that this is one of the cases where one has to take the balance of the discretions which the Commissioners have used. They have carried out one of the rules laid down in that they have taken a county district out of a county borough constituency and we now have three seats that are entirely county borough and three seats that are entirely county. To that extent they have altered the constituencies more or less in accordance with one of the specific rules which were laid down to be observed where they could be carried out.

In doing so, the Commissioners appear to have created a very considerable disparity between the sizes of the county and borough constituencies, because roughly 150,000 electors in the county get three seats and more than 200,00 electors in the county borough also get three seats, and there is apparently an average disparity between the borough seats and the county seats of some 17,000. I should have thought that to have a proportion of four to three in a matter of this kind was an excessive disparity. As I understand it, the Haltemprice urban district consists of a number of places which are almost suburbs of the City of Hull and represent more a borough than a county outlook on the problems which are likely to committed to them. Therefore, one has to balance all those things to be considered.

The hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey) made a speech that was delightful to hear and poignant in its expression of agony at what was being inflicted on him and his present constituents. I do not know how far he has been assuaged by what has been said. If the three hon. Gentlemen who spoke in terms of such moving and sincere eloquence on this subject agree to challenge a Division, I will advise my hon. Friends to provide them with Tellers and go into the Division Lobby with them.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Yorkshire, East Riding) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

12.1 a.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Huddersfield, Colne Valley and Penistone) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order transfers Denby Dale urban district from Penistone to Colne Valley, Kirkburton urban district from Colne Valley to Huddersfield East, and one ward from Huddersfield, East to Huddersfield, West. The result is to increase the rather low electorates of the two Huddersfield constituencies and to reduce those of the two county constituencies. The present position is that the county constituencies of Colne Valley and Penistone have 57,000 and 66,000 electors, respectively, as compared with the two Huddersfield divisions which have only about 46,000. After the alteration, Colne Valley will have 53,000, Penistone 59,000, Huddersfield, East 51,000 and Huddersfield, West 52,000 electors.

The county constituencies will therefore still be larger than the borough divisions, but they will be rather more nearly equal. Penistone is, of course, a large constituency and the transfer of Denby Dale will appreciably reduce its area.

12.3 a.m.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I have to declare a personal interest in that my own division is involved in these changes and I have been asked—and this is the real reason I rise—by one of the urban district councils in the Colne Valley which is not itself affected by these changes to protest when this matter came before the House.

These recommendations are a very good example of the amazing contortions in which the Boundary Commissioners have indulged. If one had not sat through these debates and heard what had happened in other areas, one would have thought that the changes here were almost unbelievable. Colne Valley boundaries were changed in 1948 and the change came into operation in the 1950 Election. We then realised that there was good reason for the changes, although at that time they were rather resented by the local electors, which is a very ancient and historic constituency. But it was decided to turn Huddersfield into two divisions, each with a member, and it was realised that part of Colne Valley would have to be torn out of the area to help provide for the extra seat. In its place Colne Valley was given the Kirkburton urban district council area on the far side of Huddersfield.

That meant that Colne Valley ceased to be a unity and one had to cross Huddersfield to reach the new part. The constituency went round Huddersfield like a horse shoe. The Kirkburton area, in which Colne Valley has now become integrated, is now to be taken from us and we are to be given instead another district on the far side of Kirkburton which has only been with us for four years. That means that one will now have to cross two divisions to reach the new part which the Commissioners have thought fit to give us.

One really cannot get a community of interest in constituency when this sort of change is indulged in. I do not know how many hon. Members know the area. It is on the main spurs of the Pennines. It is a difficult district for any party to work at election times and equally so between elections. It is far-flung and over 20 miles wide. The new division covers over 68,000 acres. In winter it is most difficult to reach many of the villages which are tucked away, very beautifully, in the folds of the hills.

To us it is astonishing that the Commissioners, instead of realising the geographical facts of the situation, should have suggested this change which will make it even more difficult for all three parties to carry on their propaganda, and to fight elections. All the local authorities are I think perturbed at what is happening and one urban district council as I have indicated has asked me to voice its feelings to the House. I do so with some satisfaction, because I know that their views have substance.

I for one have no bouquets whatever to hand out to the Commissioners. Ministers have said several times during these debates that they have done a good job. I have yet to hear where the good job is that they have done. On every single Order, either from that side or on this, hon. Members who know the areas concerned have had cogent criticisms to offer. The tragedy is that not one of those criticisms has received from either Minister any indication that they have been moved by what has been said.

We feel certain that the Commissioners cannot have visited many of the areas concerned. If they had they could not possibly have come to the conclusions which they reached. Unless I am contradicted, I am inclined to believe that they never went anywhere near the constituencies which we are now discussing. They probably looked at a map here in London, considered the figures and decided that they would alter the boundaries in the way suggested without any consideration for the people who live there, the communities which exist— and they are real, live communities among these hills—and the geographical difficulties presented by the area.

I protest to the Minister about this Order which covers an area which I know very well. I am convinced that what has happened here must have happened elsewhere. It is a disservice to democracy. It is not proper that the Minister should treat the House in this way. I do not blame him so much. I blame his advisers. They should have considered all the Orders in advance to see whether the Commissioners had done then" work properly. The most cursory glance surely would have convinced the officials at the Home Office that the Commissioners had not done a proper job. The Minister should have done what his Labour predecessor did on the last occasion and made such changes as were necessary in the Commissioners' recommendations.

12.10 a.m.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu (Huddersfield, East)

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), I too have a personal interest in this Order. Not merely do I represent the constituency of Huddersfield, East, but the Colne Valley Division was represented in this House by both my father and my brother and it is still the place that I consider my home.

On looking at this Order, I find that there are a number of very good reasons why we should protest against it. In the first place, it means that for certain sections of the area for the third time since the Great War they are to be part of a different constituency, and we in this House know what that means both to constituents and to Members. In the second place, it means that sortie areas are being dragged into Huddersfield with which they feel that they have no community of interest. In the third place, it means that the area of Huddersfield, East is, so I understand, almost exactly doubled.

We have just heard from an hon. Member opposite when we were discussing a previous Order how difficult it is for a Member of Parliament to deal with a vast area in these days when constituents require, and deserve, individual attention. This Order drags a county district into a county borough in defiance of the very principle by which the Home Secretary justified the previous Order. I think that a good reason for protesting, but I am not going to bother to make a protest. I am not going to waste my time. During this debate and during the all-night Sitting before the Christmas Recess, I listened to hon. Members giving equally good reasons for protesting against and opposing particular Orders; and very often it seemed to me that those good reasons were not even heard. I am not quite sure that sometimes they were even understood, and I am absolutely certain, as is the whole House, that they have not been accepted or listened to.

As I say, it is a waste of time to put forward good reasons and then to have no answer to them but merely a few halting words mumbled into the Dispatch Box. I just want to make a protest in my humble, insignificant capacity as a back-bench Member of Parliament on behalf of the House of Commons. During the past 25 years, at least, there has been a tendency for decisions to be taken outside before the matter has been discussed in the House of Commons. I consider that to be a denigration of the House of Commons. I consider that that tendency, disgraceful as it is, has been intensified right through the discussions on this particular issue.

I wish to say to the Home Secretary, for whom I have such personal affection, not only because he is the son of a great father but because he is himself, that I hope he is proud of the part he has played in that contemptible work.

12.14 a.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) complained, as I understood him, that an urban district had recently been added to his constituency and was now being taken away again. I think that he said he objected to the addition, I do not say as much as, but correspondingly with his objection to the present subtraction.

My right hon. and gallant Friend and, indeed, I think everyone in the House has some sympathy with that point of view. But the Opposition cannot have it both ways. If we recommend an Order which complies strictly with the provisions of the rules, they object on the ground that we are being too strict. When we recommend an Order with some modification to meet some particular local need, then it is the converse. The right hon. Gentleman's objection to this Order is the fact that as a result of the Act this urban district has been added and then subtracted.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I think that the hon. Gentleman missed my point. I can understand that, but perhaps I may be allowed briefly to repeat it. This area to which my hon. Friend and I have referred has, I think, for a period been in three divisions. More recently it came into the Colne Valley constituency. We have had it for four years, and the people there have begun to get a community of interest with the rest of the Colne Valley. It is now proposed to take it from us and to put it into another non-county division. It is to be harnessed to a borough with which, again, it has little or no community of interest.

It seems to us to be a strange thing to do. Indeed, it strikes us as completely absurd, particularly as I am apparently to be given an area beyond that. I shall have to go eight miles beyond the part which I am losing in order to reach the new part of my constituency. It is our view that no Boundary Commission would have done such a thing if it had realised what it entailed.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, perhaps more than anyone, that the part of the world in which his constituency is situated is geographically extremely difficult. The complaint is really against the rapid transfer of this area. It may well be that many hon. Members feel that these rapid changes are not a good thing, but that is not a matter to which we must have regard in discussing the Order. It is provided for in the Act.

I think it fair to tell the House that, so far as the provisions of this Order are concerned, they are in accordance with the first recommendations of the Boundary Commission. No volume of objection was lodged against them. There was an objection by the authority to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, but there was certainly no general volume of objection to warrant anything like the heat engendered in the right hon. Gentleman's speech and in that of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu). I think that the House should be aware of that when we come to decide whether or not to approve the Order.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Huddersfield, Colne Valley and Penistone) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

12.18 a.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Bradford, Brighouse and Spenborough and Dewsbury) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order deals with Bradford, Brig-house, Spenborough and Dewsbury. It transfers Heckmondwike urban district from Dewsbury to Brighouse and Spenborough, and Queensbury and Shelf urban district from Brighouse and Spenborough to Bradford, South, and rearranges the four Bradford constituencies.

Bradford was one of the boroughs which in 1948 were given one more constituency than the Boundary Commission had recommended. The Commission recommended three constituencies with an average electorate of 71,133. In the event, Bradford was given four, which gave an average electorate of 53,350, on the figures of 1946. The average electorate now is less than that; it is now only 51,332. This re-arrangement will increase that figure to 52,986.

It certainly appears to have, at any rate, the geographical advantage of producing constituencies of better and more compact shapes. I understand that the Commissioners' proposals were approved by both the Conservative and Labour parties in this area but that there was a proviso in regard to the name. At the same time, Dewsbury and Brighouse borough councils objected. I shall not give the figures of the electorates, but this proposal brings them to greater parity.

12.21 a.m.

Mr. John Edwards (Brighouse and Spenborough)

The House would not suppose after listening to the Home Secretary that Brighouse and Spenborough would, in round figures, be the same size after this Order was passed as it was before. The impression was given that here was a nice levelling up, an equalisation and so on. The truth is that the existing Brighouse and Spenborough Division, carved out of the old Elland and Spen Valley Division prior to the 1950 Election, had, in 1953, a little under 56,000 electors. It was not too big, it was not too small—it was just right. By no rule, in the ordinary sense, was there any need to interfere with it. It consisted of three local authorities—two urban districts and a borough. It was just the right size.

My only reason for intervening is the significance of the changes that are proposed to be made in respect of Brighouse and Spenborough Division in relation to the whole of the West Riding. The truth is that if the Commissioners had not been able to make this change in the division which I have the honour to represent, they would have had to take on an even worse re-arrangement than that now proposed in the West Riding.

I would ask the House to consider the absurdities which we have now reached. Here is a constituency which was changed before 1950. It is exactly the right size. The Commissioners therefore say: "We will take one urban district away—Queensbury and Shelf—and give another back—Heckmondwike, of exactly the same size." That may be sense arithmetically, but in terms of continuity of representation it is really nonsense. Although I have no objections to the Order in so far as I consider my own constituency, I wish to show the absurdities to which the Commissioners are driven when faced with a constituency which is, in all respects, wholly satisfactory and which conforms to the rules, but which must be upset in order to do something somewhere else.

I think that the Home Secretary would agree that this is not a very satisfactory situation. Whether he appreciated the position when he spoke I do not know. He certainly did not make that impression upon me or, I think, upon the House. I would ask him, in his long term consideration of the problem, to try not to disturb constituencies where the electorate is of the right size and where in every other respect there is no difficulty.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Bradford, Brighouse and Spenborough and Dewsbury) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament be approved.

12.25 a.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wakefield and Hemsworth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order transfers Royston urban district to Wakefield, so as to reduce the discrepancy between the electorates of these two constituencies. The electorate of Hemsworth is reduced from 68,000 to 62,000 and that of Wakefield is increased from 54,000 to 60,000. The change does not involve cutting across any local Government boundaries and is, therefore, completely within the rules.

The Royston urban district council, as a matter of fact, made, but later withdrew, an objection to the transfer. Wakefield Borough Council and both the local political parties also objected. The borough council and the local Labour Party made an alternative suggestion that the Stanley Urban District Council of 11,000 electors should be transferred from Normanton to the Wakefield constituency, instead of Royston. But this would have reduced Normanton's electorate of 49,000 to only 43,000, and would leave Hemsworth at its present high figure. The local Labour Party also made an alternative suggestion, but this too would have reduced Normanton's electorate to 44,000, and again would have left Hemsworth's large figure unreduced. This appears, therefore, to be entirely within the rules, and a reasonable proposal.

12.27 a.m.

Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)

It is quite true that the Wakefield Borough Council were in opposition to the terms of the Order. They submitted their alter- native proposals to the Boundary Commission and, to say the least, it was discourteous and unfortunate that there was no discussion about the alternative proposals submitted. They do feel that when problems such as this are under consideration, which, in their judgment make for a much more logical system than the one proposed in the Order, there is ground for local inquiry and for some discussion with the authority concerned.

I would only add that the constituency as it is now will welcome the addition of the Royston area, and I personally am very happy that such an adjustment can be made. None the less, I think it right that the Wakefield Council should make their protest and they have asked me so to do, irrespective of the views of the respective political parties.

12.29 a.m.

Mr. Horace E. Holmes (Hemsworth)

I would declare first of all that I have a personal interest in this matter. Royston township is my home town, and, unlike my right hon. Friend, I am most unhappy about this Order. During the whole of this debate and in the previous debates we have had all sorts of views brought forward, concerning geography, community of interests and so on. The words "status quo" have been used many times, and I was reminded of a local miners' leader whom I knew very well. There had been a change in the wages contracts, and it had caused some discussion. He went down to speak in the branch, and kept using the words "status quo". Someone said: "Look here, it is all right talking about 'status quo', but what do you mean by it?" He said "It is a Latin tag, and it means the mess we are in now'."

I want for a few moments to get away from such things as mathematics and geography. Before 1918, Royston township was in the Barnsley constituency. In 1918 a new constituency was formed for the Parliamentary elections, and Royston has been the heart and centre of that constituency. Royston, as an urban authority, has played no small part in shaping the political aspect of that constituency, which on two occasions has given me the greatest majority in the country.

I am not speaking sentimentally, but Royston has a very long history going back over a thousand years. It has a church nearly a thousand years old and a grammar school founded by James I. I wish the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) were here, because I think he would have supported the point of view I am putting forward. His family have long connections with Royston. From the fifteenth or sixteenth century the Wood family played a prominent part in Royston. During the centuries when Wakefield was producing Corpus Christi plays, many years ago, Royston was a place of some renown. At no time, over a thousand years of history, have we had any contact with Wakefield. All our relationships, of every character, are to the south and the east.

There was a redistribution of a major character in this densely-populated part of South Yorkshire in 1950 which interfered to an important degree with a number of constituencies—Barnsley, Wakefield, Pontefract, Hemsworth, Dearne, Don Valley, Rother Valley, Normanton and Goole. Every one of those constituencies had a fairly hefty change in 1950. Hemsworth was given four complete urban districts and one complete rural district.

Royston's roots are pretty deep in the Hemsworth area. In the redistribution which took place in 1950, Barnsley was left with an electorate of about 70,000. At one point the Wakefield boundary neighbours Barnsley, and it is quite possible for some redistribution on those lines to take place.

We feel strongly about this. The only link of any character between Royston and Wakefield—and it is of recent years —is that the Church of England in Royston is in the Wakefield diocese. We had an ecclesiastical parish which included Cudworth, Monk Bretton and Carlton, all to the South. The local colliery, Monckton, where I worked for many years, employed about 4,000 employees, all, except for about 50, living in the Hemsworth area.

Cudworth and Royston form the electoral area for the county council. Industrially, Cudworth and Royston are linked very closely to the railway industry. About 20 years ago the cleaning sheds were transferred from Normanton to Royston. Cudworth is a railway junction and Royston and Cudworth are linked very closely indeed with the railway industry.

As for Government Departments, the Ministry of Labour, the National Assistance Board and Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance offices are to the south, in the Barnsley area. There is no link between us and Wakefield. We feel strongly that proper regard has not been paid to the community of interest. In no shape or form, nor in any direction for over 1,000 years, have we had any contact with Wakefield.

I wanted to say a word to the right hon. and gailant Gentleman on this subject. I am sorry that he has left the Chamber, but I hope that, after he has received advice on the subject of this Order, he will listen to me. As the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) said, this is one of the Orders that ought to be taken back and looked at again. I remember in the war years going to see the right hon. and gallant Gentleman as a member of the Miner's Federation of Great Britain, and he used to impress me with his cold, cool, logical approach to our problems. Many a time, because of that cold, cool, logical approach, he resolved many of our problems, and I should like him to look at this Order in the same manner. If he does, I am satisfied that he will take it back and, having looked at it again, will decide to leave us as we are.

I do not want to be carpet-bagger. If there is anything I do not like, it is to be a carpet-bagger. For 37 years the Member of Parliament for the constituency has come from Royston, so that our roots are pretty deep. I feel that in speaking in this House on this subject I am speaking for my constituents, and I should add, too, that as soon as Wakefield saw what the Boundary Commission proposed, both the local Conservative Party and the Labour Party protested against it. All the constituencies concerned have protested against it. The Boundary Commission itself took no notice of us. It sat back and never inquired whether we had a case or not, and I want to tell the Home Secretary that on this Order we: feel very strongly indeed.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wakefield and Hemsworth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

12.38 a.m.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Leeds) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. The effect of this Order would be to reduce the number of constituencies in Leeds from seven to six. The Boundary Commission refer to this in paragraph 17 of the Report. Leeds was one of the boroughs which in 1948 was given one more constituency than the Boundary Commission had recommended. The Commission recommended six seats with an average electorate of 61,153. Leeds was given seven seats with an average of 52,417. Between 1946 and 1953 its electorate dropped, and it would seem clear from the following figures that it is not now entitled to more than six seats. The total 1953 electorate was 357,434, and, with the existing seven seats, that would mean an average electorate of 51,062. The proposed six seats will mean the average electorate will rise to 59,572—

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

Tell us why.

The Attorney-General

—which is nearer the average for the electorate of the country.

Suggestions have been put forward about the names of the new constituencies. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Porter) has suggested that the name of Leeds, Central should be retained. This suggestion has been considered by the Boundary Commission but was not adopted for the following reasons. If one looks at the map of Leeds on the back of the folder, one see that every constituency extends to the city boundaries. Therefore it is inappropriate to keep the old name of Leeds, Central for any one of these constituencies. Furthermore, the existing Leeds, Central constituency consists of four wards. Three of them will be included in the new South-East constituency, and the fourth in the new West constituency. The present Central constituency will be divided between two constituencies.

Another suggestion was that the proposed North-East constituency should be called the North constituency. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) put forward that suggestion, which has been carefully considered.

Miss Bacon (Leeds, North-East)

And the hon. Member for Leeds, Central.

The Attorney-General

I think so. This suggestion, too, has been considered by the Commission. If one looks at the map, one sees that the proposed North-East constituency is not the most northern in Leeds. The constituency which lies a little to the west of it goes further north. The name "North" would better fit the new North-West constituency, which includes the northern-most part of the city. The Commissioners rejected the suggestions as topographically inappropriate.

12.42 a.m.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

I am bound to say that I found the Attorney-General's justification of these changes unconvincing and his explanation of exactly what the changes involved non-existent. I do not propose to go into great detail as to the differences which the proposals will make to the various constituencies in Leeds, for the reason that my constituency is not affected. I want to say a few words about the significance of the change for the City of Leeds as a whole. I oppose this Order because I do not see any reason for it.

There has been, as the Attorney-General said, some small decline in the electorate, but I think it is right to say that since 1950, when the last change was made, the decline has amounted to about 2,000 electors in a total electorate of 357,000. The Attorney-General cannot justify a complete change round in Leeds on that basis. In 1950, we had a substantial re-distribution in Leeds and were given seven seats in place of six. That was not a direct recommendation of the Boundary Commission, but was a decision of the House.

I cannot accept the argument, which seemed to be implied in what the Attorney-General said, that because the proposal of the Boundary Commission was rejected then, the repetition of it must now be endorsed. That will not do. Are there in Leeds excessively large or small seats which would give cause for redistribution? I do not think so. In 1950 the range was from 47,000 to 57,000. Today it is from about 46,000 to 58,000. There is really no substantially large or small constituency—nothing that could justify change.

We are, of course, having a considerable movement of population in Leeds. As new houses are built, people move out from one constituency to another; but that, if anything, is an argument for delay. There is no doubt at all that in the course of the next few years there will be changes in the sizes of the various constituencies which might lead to a case for some redistribution. That is an argument against making it now; it is an argument in favour of waiting. So I submit that there is really no local case at all for a change of this kind.

It is true, as the Attorney-General says, that at present with seven seats the average electorate is about 51,000 and that with six seats it will be 59,000; but why should the figure of 51,000 for a city like Leeds be regarded as so small that we must lose a seat? Incidentally, what the Commission is now doing runs completely contrary to what the Home Secretary said in his speech on 15th December last about the attitude of the Commission. He said: The second method … used by the Commission … was to treat these boroughs unfavourably and create in them borough constituencies with exceptionally high electorates. This was the method which the Commission followed, on the whole, in 1947. The changes made to its recommendations in 1948 showed the Commission that this method was not acceptable, and, therefore, it has not felt able to follow it again."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 1791.] But it has followed it again in this instance; that is exactly what it has done.

All the constituencies in the City of Leeds except mine—six out of the seven—are affected, three of them so completely that one can say that they have virtually disappeared and been replaced by two with some bits of the three being shed on to other constituencies. Why has this been done? I think it is a perfect example of the extreme rigidity with which the Commission has gone to work. It really derives from the two major criticisms which have been made from this side of the House again and again and to which I have never heard a satisfactory answer; first, the refusal of the Commission to give its proper quota to England, and, secondly, its preference for smaller county and larger borough constituencies. We do not believe that it is right in either of those cases, and we do not agree that it was bound by the rules laid down under the Act to follow that course.

We cannot, therefore, accept these arguments in the case of Leeds; any more than we can in the case of other constituencies. We believe that the City of Leeds is sufficiently important to justify seven Members of Parliament. I hope that in that at least we shall have the support of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Mr. Kaberry), whom I am glad to see in his place. I could have hoped that we might also see in his place the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, North (Mr. Peake), the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance. However, in his absence, I am sure that I can say that he, too, would not wish it to be said that he was willing to acquiesce in the loss of a seat to Leeds.

12.48 a.m.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)

It really is a scandal that the great City of Leeds, the very centre of Yorkshire and the centre of all its regional activities, should be one of the very few places in the country to lose a Member of Parliament under these proposals.

If I might use a good Yorkshire term, I would say that over the last few years Leeds has been completely "mucked about." We had six constituencies up to 1950. We then had the re-drawing of the whole of Leeds in order to give us another scat, to which we were entitled. Now—only a few years afterwards—we have another re-drawing of the whole of the boundaries to put us back to six seats. In this process there are some electors in Leeds who will have been in three separate constituencies within the space of five years. This is not good for Parliamentary democracy, or for the development of close contact between a Member of Parliament and his constituency.

Leeds is only just settling down organisationally after the last redistribution. Everybody who comes from Leeds knows that great new housing estates are being built, there is redevelopment in the centre of the city, great new flats are arising, and the population is still moving. Surely this is not the time to redraw Parliamentary boundaries. It has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House that this redistribution has come too soon after the last one. That may be. One of my greatest criticisms is not the time factor, but the degree of upheaval that there has been in almost every constituency in the country.

The only reason the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave for Leeds to lose a seat was on electorate and population. He said that the present average electorate in Leeds was 51,000. To reduce the number of Leeds Members from seven to six will give us an average electorate of 59,000, which, he says, is nearly the quota for the whole country. But let us look at some of the constituencies in the surrounding areas of Yorkshire, the constituencies which surround Leeds.

Ripon, for example, has 40,000, and he has not altered that; Shipley has 46,000 and is not altered; Howden is to have 47,000; Pudsey, which comes right to the very edge of Leeds, has only 50,000 electors and is not altered; Harrogate has 51,000; Thirsk and Malton and Richmond both have 50,000, and yet these constituencies are not altered at all. Every one of the constituencies I have mentioned happens to be a Conservative constituency.

Just before the Recess, when we had a debate on these Parliamentary constituencies, the Home Secretary admitted that he thought that rural areas should be smaller than city areas. We can see that that policy is being carried out in Yorkshire where two seats have been lost, one in the City of Leeds and one in the City of Sheffield. I think that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) who said a few years ago that Members of Parliament should represent heads and not acres.

It is quite true that the size of a constituency in many respects determines the work that a Member of Parliament has to do. It is also true that it determines representation in this House. If in Leeds we have one Member of Parliament for just under 60,000, while in Ripon they have a Member of Parliament for 40,000, it means in effect that every elector in Leeds has only two-thirds of the political influence in this House as has an elector in Ripon.

I am not making charges against the Boundary Commission's impartiality. All I am saying is that this policy of making the rural seats smaller than city seats works against my party. In Yorkshire there are 13 areas—exclusive of Bradford and Huddersfield, because representation there is a little different—with 52,000 electors or less. Of these, 11 will be Conservative and two Labour. There are some county constituencies in Yorkshire that have been left vacant. I have not noticed that they have been reducing the Riding areas in the county constituencies where they could have put two together and given three representatives.

There is no justification whatsoever for Leeds to lose a seat at this time. I should like to say something about the names of the North and North-East constituencies, and I will admit that in this respect there is a little sentiment. I appeal to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he is not willing to listen to reason, to consider a little sentiment. I understand that representations were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance as well as by me about the names. The right hon. Gentleman has represented Leeds, North for 25 years. I have represented Leeds, North-East for 10 years, and before that I was Parliamentary candidate for some years.

What is proposed is that one ward only from my constituency shall go into the right hon. Gentleman's constituency of Leeds, North and that that shall now be changed to Leeds, North-East. On sentimental grounds, neither he nor I would like that. On sentimental grounds, and also from the point of view of party politics, I do not want that. When I went to Leeds, North-East there was a Conservative majority of nearly 12,000 against us. We managed to change that in 1945 to a Labour majority of 8,500. I am rather anxious that historians of the future should not look back at Leeds, North-East and say, "Ah, it went back to the Conservative Party." It is a matter of sentiment and one on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, North agrees with me.

I hope that the whole question will be reconsidered. If not, I make this small appeal on the name. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that there is absolutely no justification for taking one seat from the great City of Leeds and that he will restore the number of Members to seven.

12.57 a.m.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, South-East)

I want to confine my remarks to reinforcing the very strong points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). Firstly, there are overwhelming reasons against reducing the number of seats in Leeds. Secondly, if it is decided to reduce the number, there are overwhelming reasons against doing so now rather than later.

On the first point, the fact is that Parliament decided in 1948 that there should be seven Members for Leeds. Since that Parliamentary decision there has been a drop of only 1 per cent, in the total electorate in Leeds—a drop of 500 in every division. The result of eliminating the seat is to push the average electorate in each Leeds constituency to 3,000 over the quota rather than 6,000 under. I submit that, in view of the smaller electorates in surrounding areas, it is almost impossible to justify this action to the average citizen of Leeds who sees his vote devalued by comparison with the votes of electors in every surrounding division.

In the Labour Party we accept that under the British Parliamentary system we must inevitably lose a certain amount of our just representation because there is an exceptionally heavy concentration of Labour votes in certain defined areas. I do not see any way to get round that. If we add to this almost inevitable under-representation a general under-representation of the industrial areas all over the country, then I suggest that we are approaching an absolutely intolerable position.

We are getting a sort of political feather-bedding of the farmers which is extremely difficult to justify to any of the industrial workers or inhabitants of industrial areas. Nobody will blame the Commissioners or the Government for trying to help the country Members of Parliament who have large areas to cover. It is just that some should have a smaller electorate than the average city M.P. who represents a much more condensed area. On the other hand, if we pay this special attention to the problems of the country Member of Parliament then the Government, and Parliament, are under an obligation to correct the anomalies which arise out of such an action.

In 1948 the Government of the day accepted this duty and created a number of extra seats in the boroughs. It has been argued that that Government were actuated only by ignoble party motives. The answer to that, as succeeding elections proved, is that even after this adjustment there was a bias in the electoral system of at least 500,000, and perhaps a million, against the Labour Party, against the Government who themselves introduced the previous redistribution. Now, by eliminating these borough seats—and Sheffield and Leeds are particularly affected—the present Government are deliberately increasing a bias against their political opponents which they know already exists. I suggest that if the electorate is mucked about like this, although there may not be very strong feeling about it at a time when political passions are low, it could create a very serious danger for British democracy at a time when political divisions are more keenly felt than today. I suggest that this is likely to lead to the most dangerous frustration and cynicism in the electorate.

My second point is that if a reduction is to be made in Leeds, it should not be made now. As has been said by representatives of other divided borough seats, a Member representing a divided borough has an extraordinarily difficult human problem to face, because as a rule his constituency does not have a natural social unity. He has to work very hard—much harder than Members representing other types of seats—in order to create a sense of political unity and solidarity in the area. I think that we should be proud of the fact that in Leeds generations of M.P.'s have worked extremely hard to create this type of community feeling.

The constituency which I have the honour to represent has been held by the Labour Party since 1905, either in its present name, or under the earlier name of East Leeds, by a remarkable series of Members, starting with Jim O'Grady. Now we find this division faced with its third redistribution in six years a second Parliamentary redistribution with a ward distribution in between. If we could convince the electorate that this was the last redistribution for a long time, there might be something to be said for it. But, as previous speakers have pointed out, there is an enormous movement of population going on in Leeds which is by no means finished. The present city council plan to build 3,000 houses next year, which will mean the transfer of up to 6,000 electors from existing divisions into new divisions. I grant that the Government are trying to reduce the speed of this movement by cutting down the housing allocation there, as is happening in other parts of the country. But in spite of that, the fact is that there is a tremendous movement of population which is bound to continue for several years to come.

In my own constituency, I have a great housing estate called Seacroft, which will finally hold 30,000 souls and which is at present only half completed. That is one example of the sort of thing going on all over the city. In another five years the proposed Parliamentary boundaries will be inadequate. I suggest that if, in fact, we should face the possibility of another redistribution in five years, and if the Government are determined on their pound of flesh and to reduce the number of seats in Leeds, for heaven's sake let them wait until the present movement of population has settled down and then let us have a redistribution which will be likely to last for some time.

I suggest that this Order, like so many of the Orders which we have been discussing, is an act of butchery, unfair in principle, unnecessary in practice and most unintelligent and unwise in its timing. I hope that the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General will examine it again, and if not, I hope that all hon. Members will join in rejecting it.

1.5 a.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I think that in my own case the vicissitudes of Parliamentary life are pretty well demonstrated. I was elected to this House in the July, 1949, by-election in the belief that it was going to be the last election for the old seat. Within six months I had lost 13,000 electors, and within another 18 months, in 1951, we had another election. Now we are to have a complete change-over to the conditions which I met when I first fought the seat in 1949.

I suggest that that sort of thing is perfectly ridiculous. I wish to join issue with my hon. Friend, because I do not agree with the weighting of agricultural votes. That sort of thing would have been all very well a number of years ago, round about the time of the Reform Bill, when people went round the hustings and bought their votes.

I have here the record of the speeches made on the first night of the show in the County of Yorkshire. It says that 100 years ago elections used to cost the gentlemen of the Tory Party £100,000, and when a Radical candidate of those days entered the list he was bankrupted after spending £12,000.

It is rather curious that when the corrupt borough of Grampound was thrown overboard, Leeds got a seat in 1825. But it is interesting to note that, again, the interests were sold out to the shires. Some hon. Members on both sides of the House seem to think that the bovine contentment of the countryside is more valuable than the dynamite of the town. In these days that is quite a cockeyed sort of thinking.

When the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey) goes round from village to village rumbling in that monotone of his, he does not convert anybody at all. The people are converted by the wireless and by television. There are such things as motor cars and aeroplanes, but listening to some people one would think that these things had never been invented at all.

I decline to believe that the engineer and the skilled toolmaker make a less valuable contribution to the community than the farm labourer, the farmer or the man on the land. After all, we are only a small country. Our problem of government ought to be a simple one when we consider the size of our democracy as compared with the vast land tracts of the Americas or of a country like Soviet Russia. Therefore, to suggest that somehow or other we ought to create in the countryside a more valuable sort of vote than in the towns reminds one of the rigging that goes on in South Africa. There a rural vote counts 25 per cent, more than a town vote, which accounts for Malan getting in.

In the present counterpoise of parties in this country, the Labour Party needs I-5 per cent, more votes than the party opposite. My hon. Friend has a majority of 37,000, which is equal to the majority of no less than 37 hon. Members opposite. That shows the sort of disability under which we labour. As a matter of fact, I have found some sort of Biblical authority for what I am saying. Even Moses thought along my lines. It says in Numbers: And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. As they had not in those days thought of television, that might now be brought up to date. We know that Moses was a great medical officer of health; he was possibly the first boundary commissioner as well.

Broadly speaking, though people on television and on the less intelligent side of the House tend to run down the politicians, our democracy lives by the party system, and none of us here is any the worse for being a good party man or woman. In the main, it means that we stand by the classic trade union qualities of loyalty and cohesion, and the collective view that carries us through on broad principles. The difficulty is that these continual upsets do the party system no good at all.

I believe that Leeds is one of those places which, by its importance and its contribution to the community, deserves to be represented by seven Members. I cannot see why that number should be reduced to six. It is all very well to speak about the rural communities, but my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) made a valid point when she spoke of the effect of all this on the mining communities. In the main, those communities provide our great rolling majorities, and we have the knowledge that the loyalties of the miners are always on the sensible side of the House. This is no time to butcher-up Leeds. Let it have the seven Members it deserves by reason of its size, importance and prestige.

1.12 a.m.

Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)

I endorse all that has been said by my colleagues representing Leeds, but I do not intend to cover the same ground. In introducing the Order the Minister did me and my constituency the honour of a special reference to the representations which we made both to the Commissioners and to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself. He tried to tell us that our representations had been given reasonable consideration, and that only after that reasonable consideration was it decided that a new name was more suitable for the Central Division.

The only evidence the Minister adduced as to what might have been considered in that regard was that a portion of the division had gone into Leeds, West and that therefore two divisions were taking parts of the old Central Division. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell) has already pointed out, that portion of Leeds, West was obviously not given to Leeds, Central, but was only lent for a couple of years, because it is now to return to its old love.

It has been said that the reason for the change of name is that the Central division now reaches the perimeter of the city. Anyone who takes the trouble to look at the narrow portion which does go out to the perimeter will agree that that does not justify the change of name. Leeds, Central, which has been Leeds, Central for so many years, has had and still will have what I call central interests which do not operate in other constituencies in Leeds. The whole business interest of the town, the tutorial and university interests and most of the professional interests are all concentrated —as in normal towns—in the centre.

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

Just like the City of London.

Mr. Porter

I suggest from that point of view that there has been no justification in changing the name as has been suggested at the moment. I cannot for the life of me see why consideration is given to the change of name at all, because, as the old saying is, "The rose by any other name would smell as sweet," and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Central division by any other name would return the same type of candidate as it has returned for some considerable time.

I am not going to make any accusations against the Commissioners, but when they decided that in 1948 there would be a change which would give an extra seat, and that it should be an extra Tory, so that there would be two Tories instead of one, it is rather peculiar that when they determine the change on this occasion they are going to reduce it from seven to six, with the conditions that will now operate in regard to these Tory seats. I want to make my protest on behalf of the division that they have not given any consideration to the representations which have been made about the change of name.

It is no good the Attorney-General trying to throw all the blame on to the Commission. He said the Commissioners had given due consideration to these particular points and determined that the name should be changed. I knew the procedure was that we should take it in front of the Commission, and we did, on behalf of the division. We also knew that when the representations of the Commissioners came before the Home Secretary he could, within his own entitlement, if he thought fit, give further consideration to a suggestion which might be made. He himself could then have made an alteration before it came to this House as an Order. Therefore, not only has the Commission turned down my division regarding the name, but the Home Secretary has not given any consideration to the submission that I or my division made.

1.20 a.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

I venture to speak on this Order because this is a matter on which London and Leeds may have a fellow feeling, because we are both victims of the same fallacious argument. On several occasions during this evening, the Home Secretary has said that there has been no attempt to prove that the Commission did not observe the rules. On the contrary, repeatedly the evidence to that effect has been put before the House and has never been answered. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not grasped it yet, I propose briefly to rehearse the matter as it applies to this Order, which bears a close comparison with those from London.

Leeds is being injured in this way because the Commission has decided—and it tells us this—that the West Riding of Yorkshire has to lose two seats, just as the area in West London is injured because the Commission has decided that the County of London has to lose one seat. How did the Commission arrive at the conclusion that the West Riding of Yorkshire has to lose two seats? By applying to the West Riding of Yorkshire the English quota, which it has invented and which is nowhere mentioned in the rules, and disregarding the British quota, which is mentioned in the rules. It is no good the Home Secretary shaking his head at that.

Maj. Lloyd-George

I should have thought the hon. Member would know by now, following the judgment the other day, that what was done is exactly what was done in 1947, which was judged to be correct.

Mr. Stewart

I am sorry that the Home Secretary has not grasped the fact that what was done in 1947 cannot be a justification for something supposed to be done in pursuance of an Act passed later than 1947. It is no good his taking shelter behind the judgment of the courts, because if there is one thing on which the courts have been agreed throughout it is that the final decision in this matter as to what is right and what is not right lies with this House. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman may agree with that judgment of the courts if he likes, but it is not enough for him to say, "The courts said this, so Parliament must agree with it." He has to present reasons which can convince the House, not just the ipse dixit of the courts on a matter which the courts themselves have definitely decided is a matter for the House to decide.

I say again that the decision which injured Leeds—that the West Riding should lose two seats—was made, as the Commission itself admits, by using an English quota not mentioned in the rules and disregarding a British quota which is mentioned in the rules. That is why we say the Order is in disregard of the rules.

What excuse is offered for that? The excuse which has been offered is that if we did not use an English quota, and if we applied the smaller British quota to England, the number of English constituencies would become too great. That is the excuse offered. How much too great? Instead of the 511 which there are to be under the Commission's Report —five more than the number mentioned in the Act beyond which the Commission is not to make a substantial increase, if the rules are followed—there would he 517. These injuries to London and to Leeds need then never have been done.

The Commission's excuse is based on the extraordinary proposition that to add another five to 506 is not a substantial increase but that to bring the number up to 517 is a substantial increase. If we accept the Commission's excuse, we have to believe, as an article of faith, that 1 per cent. is not a substantial increase but 2 per cent. is a substantial increase.

That is not consistent with the rules under which the Commission was supposed to have done its work. The point was put in an earlier debate and the Government Front Bench sat silent for some time, although there was a lot of running between them and the officials' box. The Joint Under-Secretary of State then rose to answer the point—and what answer did he give? He said, "The trouble is that if you did not use the English quota, not only would you have to increase the number of English seats now but you would have to go on increasing them at every successive redistribution."

Is that true? It is true only on one assumption—the assumption that the proportion of the population of Great Britain which lives in England will go on increasing indefinitely. Do the Government believe that? If they do not, then the Joint Under-Secretary's argument was nonsense. If they do believe it and believe that Wales and Scotland will become progressively more depopulated, what an extraordinary admission for a Government who are supposed to have given special attention to those parts of the United Kingdom and for a Home Secretary who is supposed to have a particular regard for Wales.

So at that stage we moved from one fallacy to another in this attempt to justify the deprivation of the West Riding of Yorkshire in the way in which London has been deprived, and the deprivation of Leeds in particular. As my hon. Friends have pointed out, when it was decided to squeeze the West Riding, why should it be applied to Leeds rather than the smaller constituencies which, oddly enough, are represented by hon. Members opposite?

I trust that we shall not be told again, and incorrectly with complete disregard both for history and for constitutional position, that all this is the result of the Act. That excuse is an attempt by the Government to dodge their own responsibilities. What does the Act require? It requires the Commission to make a report and to be guided in its report by certain rules. It also requires the Home Secretary to put before the House draft Orders following, though not rigidly, the recommendations of the Commission with or without modifications, as he sees fit. So when the Home Secretary puts before the House orders without modifications when he has complete power to make modifications, the responsibility for the form of this Order is his and not the Act's. The Act gave him power to alter these Orders if he saw fit. He may say, "These Orders that I. have put before you are the inevitable consequence of the Act," but the fact is that they are the result of his decision not to make modifications.

Further, is there anything in the Act to say that not only shall the Government bring forward the Orders without modifications but that they shall use the Whips in order to make sure that they are forced through? There is nothing whatever following as an inevitable consequence of the Act.

It is perfectly possible to believe entirely in the wisdom of the Act, but there is nothing inconsistent in believing in the wisdom of the Act and objecting to any particular Order that is made under it, because one of the provisions is that the Orders are subject to the final judgment of this House. I should have thought it would have been more in conformity with the spirit of the matter if that judgment were given by a free vote and not on party lines.

It cannot be said that Orders like these are the direct consequence of this Act because, as I have shown, it has been revealed again and again, and not replied to, that the Orders are made not by following but by disregarding the rules that the Act lays down. Moreover, there is certainly nothing in the Act to justify the extremely dubious procedure of submitting certain of these draft Orders to the Sovereign and getting them turned into law whilst others still remain undecided. I know the excuse offered for that is that it is constitutionally essential to place them before the Crown as soon as they have passed this House. If that is so, then it was the duty of the Government to see that there was one continuous discussion in the House on the whole series of Orders, even if it meant upsetting their business to do so.

What justification was there for depriving London of a seat, Manchester of a seat and other places that have already been deprived, unless it can be said, "You are being deprived of a seat because the total number of Members has to be so much." If the House now decides not to pass any of these Orders, the total number of Members will not be what was previously arranged, and London, Manchester and other places might say, "You have doubled-crossed us. You have deprived us of a seat because you said this was the result of the rules which were applied not only to London, but to Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere." That means that when we start to debate the Leeds Order with the London Order already made, the discussion on the Leeds Order is prejudiced from the start.

The Commission's Report—and no one can deny this—is a coherent whole. None of its arguments make sense unless one starts by accepting its proposition that the total of English Members should be 511. Unless you treat it as a coherent whole you prejudice the whole of the discussion. There was nothing in the Act to require the Government to do that, and it was against the whole spirit of the Act that it should be done. What is being done in Leeds is like what was done in Manchester, London, and elsewhere. It is not an inevitable result of the Act. That excuse will not wash. It springs from fallacious reasoning by the Commission, in disregard of the Act, and the neglect of the Home Secretary in not perceiving that the rules have been disregarded and making the necesary modifications in the Orders, as the Act empowered him to do, before they were submitted to the House.

1.32 a.m.

The Attorney-General

I must admit that I was surprised to hear the hon. Member still assert that it has been established that the Commission did not comply with the rules by which it was bound. He repeated arguments which I heard advanced in the Court of Appeal, and which were carefully considered and rejected. Precisely the same argument, that the Commission had applied the English average, and not the electoral quota, was the gist of the attack in the Court of Appeal, and that was the ground on which the injunction was granted by the court below.

If he wishes to do so, the hon. Member can see the full record of what happened in court, the argument and the judgment, because it has been placed in the Library. The courts held that there was no ground for saying, on consideration of the Report, that the Commission had applied the average of English seats.

If the hon. Member will read paragraph 9, at the beginning of the Report, he will see that it was stated, Our aim was to create 506 constituencies, each of which would be at, or near, the electoral quota without cutting across local government boundaries. The Commission goes on finally to recommend 511. In the next paragraph it gives the figure for electoral quotas as 55,670. I do not think I need pursue that line of argument because, as again was made clear in the court, by the court's decision, the primary rule to which the Commission had to have regard was Rule 1, that the number of seats in this House should not be substantially greater, or fewer, than 630. It was a matter for the Commission to judge whether the number which, on one calculation, would result was substantially greater or not.

I turn now to the speeches made by the hon. Members for Leeds. I listened with great sympathy to the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Porter) and to the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), in relation to the names of the constituencies. I have suffered. I have always represented the same constituency, but its name was changed in the last redistribution, although the constituency was very little altered. I know how deeply local affections can grow for, and result in a desire to retain a certain name, but, as I said, "Central" ceases to be appropriate when one considers the outline and so does "North-East" when one considers the points of the compass and ascertains which is the most northerly.

Mr. Pannell


The Attorney-General

I am coming to the hon. Gentleman's speech in a moment. I am dealing with names at the moment.

Mr. Pannell

I was dealing with names, too. It happens that Central Leeds was Central Leeds even when I went to West Leeds in 1949. All that has happened is that one ward has been transferred to revert to the situation in 1949, when it was still Central Leeds. I do not know why there have been two opinions about the one seat.

The Attorney-General

What happened to my constituency was that a portion was taken from it and another added to it and the name was changed from Daventry to South Northamptonshire. Previously it had been called South Northants.

I feel great sympathy with the views which have been expressed about the continual change of constituencies. As the hon. Lady said, for constituents to be in three separate constituencies in five years is extremely upsetting and disturbing. She drew attention to the county divisions nearby, and the theme of the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell) was the discrepancy, as he alleged, between the county seats and the borough seats. One can draw attention to many such anomalies. The hon. Lady drew attention to seats in Yorkshire.

The hon. Member's own electorate is only 48,000. He suggested that the electorates in the rural divisions were smaller, but he will find that the average for Hertfordshire is 61,000. His electorate of 48,000 may be contrasted with that of about 70,000 in the Holland with Boston Division. He will see that one can obtain examples one way or the other wherever one likes to go.

However, if one works out the average electorate in the contested seats at the last General Election, contrasting the seats won by the Conservatives with those won by the Socialists, one gets this result. When I say Conservatives I mean Conservatives and their allies. [Laughter.] I always like to pay a tribute to our allies when I can. The figures are not uninteresting. The average of the contested seats won by the Conservatives and their allies was 55,818 and the Socialist-won seats 55.789. The average electorate which returned a Conservative was slightly larger than the average returning a Socialist.

The hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey) suggested that these changes should not be made now. I feel sure that there are a great many people who believe that it is most unfortunate that we should have had this continual repetition of changes; but that is what the Act provides for. It is no good the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) trying to indicate that the 1949 Act was the first Act of this kind. Other Acts passed by the Socialists before the 1949 Act were in all material respects similar to the 1949 Act.

Mr. M. Stewart

At no time did I suggest that it was the first Act of its kind. I pointed out that it happens to be the Act we are supposed to be administering now. In answer to the charge about the Act not being right it is idle to quote what was in some other Act.

The Attorney-General

The hon. Member may say that, but he will find that the rules in the other Acts, apart from one minor point, in this respect were substantially the same. There were the same rules for the earlier boundary recommendations. We altered the rules at one time. The first rules brought in had a limit to the departure from the electoral quota, and that was found to be unworkable and was amended. Apart from that, the rules have been the same the whole way through.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) again suggested that the Boundary Commission had gone wrong. He put forward as a major criticism the allegation that the Boundary Commission had refused to give the proper quota to England. As I have already indicated, that allegation has been most carefully considered and has been found to be without any substance whatsoever.

Then he went on to quote a speech made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Home Secretary on 15th December. He read a passage from it. If he had read the preceding passage, he would have seen that my right hon. and gallant Friend was referring to the problem of dealing with boroughs with 80,000 to 100,000 electors. It was in connection with those that he had made those observations. He said: The second method was to treat these boroughs unfavourably and create in them borough constituencies with exceptionally high electorates. This was the method which the Commission followed, on the whole, in 1947. The changes made to its recommendations in 1948 showed the Commission that this method was not acceptable, and, therefore, it has not felt able to follow it again."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 1791.] The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Commission had followed that method again. That suggestion is not well founded. The reason for the reduction is not the high population, but the decrease of population. He said that there had been a decrease in Leeds of 2,000 since 1950. In fact it has been 9,000 since 1946.

Mr. Gaitskell

We are not dealing with 1946.

The Attorney-General

I am showing the trend. If the right hon. Gentleman can mention one figure, at least I can be allowed to mention another.

Mr. Gaitskell

We can all mention figures as long as we like but the figure that is relevant here is what has changed since the last Act.

The Attorney-General

I think that what has changed since the last distribution is more relevant. The right hon. Gentleman takes as his point of departure the changes made, not those proposed by the Boundary Commission.

Once again the attack upon this Order in Council has been substantially an attack upon the rules by which the Boundary Commission is bound. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite not to like that, but that is the case. We are being asked to follow the example set by hon. Members opposite when they were in office and were faced with the last Boundary Commission Report. They rejected it by substantially altering it and we are being asked to follow their bad example.

Mr. Skeffington

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be frank with the House about the figures he has given for the average number of electors represented by Conservative Members? Surely, he can arrive at the figure he gave only if he includes the 11 Tory seats in Northern Ireland. If he excludes them, he knows perfectly well that the average number of Tory electors is far below that of Labour constituencies.

1.45 a.m.

Mr. Ede

I am sure that my hon. Friend realises that there is no answer to his question and that the truth of the argument he has adduced is admitted.

I was disappointed with the reply of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the closely knit argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart). My hon. Friend presented a full argument to which the Attorney-General made no real attempt to submit an answer. I do not complain about the rules. They came from the Speaker's Conference, but there has always been a duty on the Secretary of State, when he gets the recommendations of the Commissioners, to examine them, and, when he submits the Orders, to make in them such modifications as he may think fit.

The sort of rules that one can put into an Act of Parliament are admittedly not as clear in their outline as what we ordinarily regard as rules. There must always be some subsequent consideration to see that justice has been done in spite of the way in which the mere mathematics of the proposals work out.

I do not go quite as far as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell) about disparities between rural and urban seats. The effect of the proposals, when the whole of them have been adopted and applied, will be to increase that disparity by an average of over 2,000 votes as between the urban and the rural seats. That is the kind of disparity which modifications in the Orders that are submitted ought to correct.

There is nothing in the rules which lays down what the differentiation between urban and rural seats shall be. There is a reference, in what have to be vague terms, to the size, the area, and the shape of constituencies. When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, or whoever may be Home Secretary at the time, gets the Report of the Commissioners and drafts Orders which have to be based on the Report, that is the time at which points

like the disparity between urban and rural constituencies should be considered.

We have had no indication from the right hon. and learned Gentleman or anyone else who has spoken from the Government Front Bench that that point has been considered by them. They have accepted the accidental impact of that disparity of the various Reports of the Commissioners. That is one of the fields in which they have failed in their duties.

A few borough seats, comparatively small, will always have to be considered if justice is to be done on the broad differentiation between borough and county seats. I do not apologise in any way for what was done on the last occasion. I am certain that if we are to get substantial justice some consideration must be given to that point on every report that we get, whether such reports come at intervals of 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years. It may well be a good thing, before any alteration is made in the law, to give consideration to the point as to what is an appropriate differentiation between rural and urban seats to see if we can arrive at some generally agreed proportion.

I do not think that anything said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was an adequate answer to the speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and I shall advise them to go into the Lobbies against this Order.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 132, Noes 88.

Division No. 26.] AYES [1.50 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Alport, C. J. M. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Errington, Sir Erio Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Armstrong, C. W. Fell, A. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Fisher, Nigel Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Baldwin, A. E. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Kerr, H. W.
Banks, Col. C. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Langford-Holt, J. A.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Garner-Evans, E. H. Leather, E. H. C.
Bishop, F. P. Glover, D. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Black, C. W. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Boothby, Sir R. J. C. Graham, Sir Fergus Linstead, Sir H. N.
Bossom, Sir A. C. Cresham Cooke, R. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harris, Reader (Heston) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Brooman-White, R. C. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Longden, Gilbert
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bullard, D. G. Heath, Edward Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Campbell, Sir David Higgs, J. M. C. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cary, Sir Robert Hinchingbrooke, Viscount MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hirst, Geoffrey Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Holland-Martin, C. J. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C. Hollis, M. C. Marples, A. E.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Crouch, R. F. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Medlicott, Sir Frank
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Mellor, Sir John
Deedes, W. F. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Nabarro, G. D. N. Renton, D. L. M. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Neave, Airey Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Tilney, John
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Roper, Sir Harold Touche, Sir Gordon
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Turner, H. F. L.
Nield, Basil (Chester) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Vosper, D. F.
Oahshott, H. D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Odey, G. W. Scott, R. Donald Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'le'bne)
O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Wall, Major Patrick
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Sharpies, Maj. R. C. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Page, R. G. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Soames, Capt. C. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Pitman, I. J. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Powell, J. Enoch Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Prior-Palmer, Brig, O. L. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Wills, G.
Raikes, Sir Victor Studholme, H. G. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rayner, Brig. R. Summers, G. S.
Redmayne, M. Sumner, W. D. M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees-Davies, W. R. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Mr. Kaberry and Mr. Robert Allan.
Acland, Sir Richard Hoy, J. H. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Awbery, S. S. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Blackburn, F. Janner, B. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Blenkinsop, A. Jeger, George (Goole) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Bowden, H. W. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Ross, William
Bowles, F. G. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Johnson, James (Rugby) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Champion, A. J. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Collick, P. H. Janes, Jack (Rotherham) Skeffington, A. M.
Corbet, Mrs, Freda Keenan, W. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Crosland, C. A. R. MacColl, J. E. Steele, T.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) McLeavy, F. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Deer, G. Manuel, A. C. Thornton, E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Timmons, J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Mellish, R. J. Wallace, H. W.
Fernyhough, E. Mitchison, G. R. Warbey, W. N.
Flenburgh, W. Moody, A. S. West, D. C.
Foot, M. M. Moyle, A. Wheeldon, W. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mulley, F. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Nally, W. Wilkins, W. A.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Oswald, T. Willey, F. T.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Palmer, A. M. F. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hannan, W. Pannell, Charles Willis, E. G.
Hayman, F. H. Pargiter, G. A. Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Herbison, Miss M. Peart, T. F. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Plummer, Sir Leslie Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Holman, P. Popplewell, E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Holmes, Horace Porter, G. Miss Bacon and Mr. Denis Healey.


That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Leeds) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

2.0 a.m.

Major Lloyd-George

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Sheffield) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. The case of the Sheffield Order is very much on all fours with that which we have just been discussing with regard to Leeds. As in the case of Leeds, this Order has the effect of reducing the number of seats from seven to six, and, like Leeds also, Sheffield is one of the boroughs which was given an extra seat in 1948. The original recommendation of the Commission in 1948 was for six seats, which gave an average electorate of 63,108. In the result, Sheffield was given seven seats, which gave an average electorate of 54,093.

The electorate went down by about 11,000 between 1946 and 1953. From the following figures it seems clear that Sheffield is not now entitled to more than six seats. In 1953, the total electorate was 367,470. With the existing seven seats that means an average electorate of 52,496. With the proposed six seats the figure is just over 61,000.

I have nothing more to add: all the points raised in the Leeds discussion would obviously be relevant to Sheffield. It is quite obvious that there is complete disagreement between the two sides of the House as to the correctness of the Commission's recommendation. I and my hon. and right hon. Friends accept that the Commission has interpreted the rules correctly, and we have been confirmed in that view. If the rules have been interpreted correctly the decision to reduce the Sheffield seats from seven to six is right.

2.3 a.m.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

I make no apology for detaining the House now, because some of the issues raised here, although similar in principle to those in the case of Leeds and other places, are of very great importance to the citizens of Sheffield. This, I think, is the first time that any Member representing a Sheffield constituency has ventured to debate those principles.

To some extent my task is made rather shorter, because the Home Secretary has today seen fit to make some introductory remarks on the Orders—a courtesy which was lacking in similar debates before Christmas. I would say to the Home Secretary that, in short, the substance of our objection is that he has presented these Orders to the House with obstinacy in the mistaken belief that it amounts to statesmanship, and has sought to convince us that inactivity amounts to integrity.

As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, the effect of the Order is to reduce the representation in Sheffield from seven seats to six. The constituency of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) has been removed. I would say that no constituency has been better represented in this House than has Neepsend by my right hon. and learned Friend. I take the 1954 figures, which are more favourable to our case than those quoted by the Home Secretary. Perhaps he has not yet acquainted himself with them. They mean that an average quota for the city will now be 60,647 instead of 51,984, approximately 52,000.

I will not dwell on the obvious disturbances that such a redistribution of seats causes. The constituency that is to disappear has been in existence only since 1950; in other words, it will have lasted for only one Parliament. This, of course, is a common problem when redistribution takes place. In addition, a number of wards in the city will have been in three different divisions in a short period of five years.

I would suggest that this disturbance should not be undertaken unless there are very weighty reasons for it, and I will concede at once that the 52,000 average, if we retain seven Members, is less than the electoral quota for Great Britain. But the result of the change is to turn a deficit of 3,600 in the electoral quota into a surplus of 5,000 above the quota. What kind of equity is there in a change which takes us further away from the quota?

Would it be really serious if we were allowed to retain an average electorate of 52,000? I submit that the best judge of this should be the Boundary Commission itself. It is rather surprising that there are 112 constituencies with less than a 52,000 electorate that the Commission has seen fit to change. There are four constituencies in which it has made small changes and 36 new constituencies are set up with an electorate below the present average in Sheffield, making up a total of 152 seats, or 30 per cent. of all the English divisions. These figures relate only to the English seats. I noticed the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, who has now left us, was a little upset about the change of name of his constituency, but obviously had no complaint about being left with an electorate of 47,000.

I realise that the Boundary Commission, for reasons which I have not been able to follow, had to stick to county areas, but in the West Riding itself there are still eight constituencies smaller than the 52.000 average that Sheffield will still have if this Order is withdrawn tonight. Twenty-five per cent., in other words, of the Yorkshire Members have no more constituents than we are claiming Sheffield should have. What, then, is the reason why this wholesale alteration has been made? As I do not expect an answer from the Government Front Bench, I think I had better give it myself.

Why should the Commission pick on Sheffield and Leeds for this kind of alteration? I consider that the issue was prejudged and was never really considered on its merits because Sheffield and Leeds happen to be towns to which an extra seat was allotted by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), the then Home Secretary, in 1948, and the Boundary Commissioners were determined to take away those seats. I realise that that is a very serious charge to make, and I hope on the next occasion I shall not have my own seat abolished as a penalty. But the evidence I want to put before the House comes from the Commission's own Report.

Paragraph 14 of the Commission's Report reads: In our initial report we expressed the view that, in general, urban constituencies could more conveniently support large electorates than rural constituencies and our recommendations were framed so as to enable recognition to be given to this view. The modification by Parliament of those recommendations, resulting in the creation of additional constituencies in a number of the larger boroughs, had the incidental effect of upsetting the balance that we had thought appropriate between the electorates of urban and rural constituencies. We have given considerable thought to the treatment to be accorded to the areas thus affected. While we see no reason to recede from the view expressed in our initial report we have found it possible to recommend the retention of the majority of the additional borough constituencies then created. That arrogance and impertinence by the Commission in its Report completely disposes of the argument which the Home Secretary has seen fit to deploy on nearly every occasion—that the Commissioners regarded themselves as being subject to Parliament. They take it upon themselves to correct a balance about which there is no rule. Certainly it was not Parliament's intention to let the Commissioners decide the balance as between county and town divisions, because it is an unfortunate fact that, broadly speaking, it amounts to a balance between the party opposite and the party on this side of the House.

I submit that by coming to the House, as the Home Secretary has done, with the phrase, "We must have the Report and nothing but the Report," as though it were some kind of sacred document of Holy Writ, he has grossly neglected his duties. In my opinion, the Home Secretary should restore the balance, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields in 1948. My right hon. Friend has been much criticised for the action which he then took. In fact, the Attorney-General said a moment or two ago that the Government did not propose to follow the bad example of the Labour Government of 1948.

The irony of the Attorney-General's remarks was that he had previously quoted—a moment or so earlier—the evidence which completely justified the action which my right hon. Friend then took. He was quoting, I presume, from a letter in "The Times," although he did not see fit to give us the source of his information. The letter appeared on 18th December and showed that for the 295 seats won by Labour in the last Election the average electorate was 55,789 and for the 317 seats won by the Conservatives the average electorate was 55,818—a slight balance, in the average, for the seats held by the party opposite. If one allows for the exceptional electorates in Northern Ireland, it would be slightly the other way.

These figures are the result of the adjustments which my Tight hon. Friend made, and I predict that because the Home Secretary has not been prepared to readjust the balance, at the next Election there will be a very great disparity between these figures. I suggest that the contrast between the attitude of the Home Secretary and that of his predecessor in this matter is very striking.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, who I believe is Her Majesty's senior Secretary of State, has behaved like an office boy in the whole of these transactions and has regarded his statutory duty as being simply to carry in the Report of the Commission and place it on the Table of the House. As far as I have been able to follow the debates, he and his fellow Government spokesmen have been unprepared to amend, explain or even justify in detail or principle the Commission's recommendations.

Perhaps I may now concentrate on the Sheffield Order and refer the House to the comments which the Commissioners themselves make as to their reasons for taking away a seat from Sheffield. In paragraph 17, referring to Leeds and Sheffield, the Commissioners say: Both boroughs had been favoured under the 1948 Act. If that was not a slap in the face to Parliament I have never seen one in a document of this character. In neither case does the 1953 electorate justify a continuance of the special treatment then accorded to them, having decreased since the 1946 Register by 8,583 and 11,180 respectively. The 1954 Register shows a further decrease of electorate in each borough. I want to say quite sincerely that I do not seek to make a personal point of comparison, because I am quite sure that the Home Secretary would be the last person to choose any preferential treatment for himself or his own borough, but it happens that his own constituency remains at the figure of 52,000 although the decrease between 1953 and 1954 is 1,100, a greater figure than is found in any of the seven Sheffield seats.

The Commissioners, in predicting a decline, go into hypothetical trends of the future, but I think the House ought to be aware of the reason for the decline in the Sheffield electorate. It is very simple, although it is a rather unsatisfactory reason. Since the war the city has been obliged to build its housing estates outside the city boundaries. The city promoted a Bill in 1951 to include these areas within the city. It received the assent of this House, but was rejected by another place.

Inevitably at some time these areas will be incorporated within the city. In any event, as Sheffield citizens living in Sheffield Corporation houses, they have a close identity with the city. Yet in all the large cities, except Sheffield and Leeds, urban and rural districts or parts of them have been included to make up the numbers of the electorate, often, as we have heard time and again, where there has been no association of any kind with the areas so incorporated, and where the inhabitants have been strongly against such a change. Nevertheless, the Commission has incorporated those areas in order to retain the number of Members in the city.

In Sheffield, where that is simple and desirable, the Commission did not see fit to do it, and I predict that in the future either the electorate of the six new divisions will swell to a greater disparity, or else, as before 1948, parts of the city will be represented by county Members outside if, as I am quite sure will happen, these areas are incorporated in the city of Sheffield.

I do not want to develop the point that was so well made by one of my hon. Friends from Leeds, that the fluctuation of population within a city is a result of any housing schemes promoted. That also applies to Sheffield.

In conclusion, I will further strengthen my case by making a comparison between Sheffield and other large cities. As I have said, with the exception of Leeds, all have had some additional part outside the boundary included for Parliamentary purposes. In Birmingham there has been a borough, in Manchester, Bradford, and Leicester, urban districts, in Newcastle and Nottingham both urban and rural districts; and in Liverpool there was the recent city boundary extension.

In each of these cases they have now, as a result of redistribution, a lower average electorate than will be the case in Sheffield. Taking the 1954 average figure, Sheffield constituencies will have an average of 60,447 electors whereas Leeds has 59,400, Birmingham 57,200, Manchester 58,300, and Liverpool 57,200, all, of course, well above the quota of 55,400.

The Attorney-General ought to know that the arguments were not decided by the Court of Appeal. The basis of its judgment was this House. I was present when the Attorney-General made his case, and when the matter was argued in the court itself. The Attorney-General quoted figures to us which proved my right hon. Friend, a former Home Secretary, to be right, and right up to the hilt; and then he said that the Government did not propose to follow a bad example. In a matter of this sort, which is not one of pure law, I do not think we can follow the Attorney-General's guidance too closely.

I suggest that the Boundary Commission has no authority to impose a balance which it sees fit to assert over the expressed will of Parliament in the 1948 Act. While I am prepared to concede that there is some point in the argument about the convenience of hon. Members in certain cases, and that for this reason some constituencies must be smaller, I must say that the argument would be more convincing if the smallest constituency in England were not Battersea, a compact area a fourpenny ride from the House.

We were denied a public inquiry, although there seems to be no case in law or equity for the proposed changes in Sheffield, and in spite of strong representation from the city that there should be one. The Boundary Commission has ignored the views expressed by Parliament in the 1948 Act because it was determined to take from Sheffield a seat which was given back to it in 1948.

This is the last of a sorry story of a Government using a majority as a steamroller to pass through the House a measure which may well determine the next Election, and which has been criticised from both sides of the House. I hope that my hon. Friends will register their final protest, and if hon. Members opposite will not join us in the Lobby I hope they will at least go away ashamed of the way in which this matter has been conducted by the Government.

2.23 a.m.

Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, when he briefly and inadequately presented the case for the Boundary Commission, said that on present figures Sheffield was not entitled to seven seats; but he has stated in previous discussions that the Tory rural areas round about Sheffield and in Yorkshire, with smaller electorates, are entitled to their present number of seats. That is the partial approach, whatever one may say about the attitude of the Boundary Commission, which has been brought to this matter by the Government, and by its spokesmen.

They have dealt with an important constitutional problem in a way which does not reflect credit on them, and which is likely to have serious repercussions. It may lead to a Tory Government being elected on a smaller vote than is accorded to its opponents. That is a situation which might well come about from the overweighting of the rural areas and the underweighting of the industrial areas. I do not think the Government have sufficiently borne in mind the seriousness of such a situation.

At any rate, very few of the Commission's proposed changes have found favour anywhere except in the Conservative Central Office and among the Conservative associations in Sheffield, who have decided to sacrifice their civic pride for political expediency. The changes will give the Conservative Party an electoral advantage, and that is why they are being driven through the House, but on any proper consideration there cannot be any justification for the changes proposed for Sheffield.

Some of the reasons given for the changes have been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Park (Mr. Mulley). The way in which the job has been done in Sheffield can be understood if one reads para, 5 of the Commission's Report. The Commission settled the whole of the boundary problems in 16 meetings. It said: Our procedure was as follows:—We had before us particulars, provided by the General Register Office, of the electorates of each administrative area…maps prepared for us by the Ordnance Survey Department. …On the basis of this information we formulated provisional recommendations.… In other words, the Commissioners sat down with a pile of maps and statistical tables and proceeded to do the carving up.

There was no consideration at all of the real local circumstances. In any case, a flat map of Sheffield gives no idea of local circumstances; it gives no idea of the topography, the transport, the local associations, or anything else. No member of the Commission visited Sheffield to find out what the local circumstances were. The Commission took no notice of local opinion. Representations were made to the Commission which were not even acknowledged.

The Commission took no account of recent local history. My hon. Friend has mentioned the proposal for the extension of boundaries. Ward rearrangements were made by the Commission following the previous redistribution of seats, and the redrawn ward boundaries are now accepted and are the basis of the civic life of Sheffield. As a result of the new decision of the Commission, everything is again being thrown into the melting-pot, even its own decisions about ward boundaries and the fitting of the ward boundaries into the Parliamentary constituencies.

The Bill promoted by the Sheffield Corporation to extend the boundaries of the city to cover the housing estates which have been built outside it was approved by this House. It was rejected by a Committee in another place. I do not know whether I am allowed to criticise its decision, but it was taken in the manner in which the Commission has been working, there being no reference at all to local circumstances. No representations were made to the Committee; the Bill was thrown out before any representations were made. Nevertheless, this House approved the extension of boundaries.

The case presented was that the people living outside the city boundaries were living in Sheffield houses, came from Sheffield, worked in Sheffield, shopped in Sheffield, went to cinemas, theatres, churches, and civic societies in Sheffield, and in every way considered themselves to be Sheffield citizens.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has said with regard to other seats, the Commission has not stuck to the rule that it should not place areas outside a city in city constituencies. The Commission, as anybody who has listened to this debate and read the Report can see, made its own rules as it went along, and changed them as it went along to suit its own point of view in individual cases.

The fact that this House has approved the city boundary extension should surely have been taken into consideration by the Commission. If it was going to say that the urban areas had to stick to a high figure, round about the national average of electors, whereas rural constituencies could be below the national average, the Commission should have included Sheffield citizens living outside the city. Sheffield could then have retained its proper representation.

If these two small areas outside the city had been included, the electorate would have been more than enough to sustain the present seven Members, even if the number of electors had been slightly above the average. Bringing in those areas would not have brought the rural areas outside below the national average. One of the areas is in Derbyshire. It is interesting to look at the Derbyshire situation, which makes complete nonsense of the arguments that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has been putting.

Let us take the county seats in Derbyshire. Belper has 67,000 electors under the new arrangements; Ilkeston has 70,400; North-East Derbyshire has 66,000, the borough constituency of Chesterfield has 65,000. Of course, the county constituency of West Derbyshire, a Tory seat, has only 44,700.

There is a clear case for the creation of another constituency in Derbyshire to reduce the number of voters. If the Commission does not want to be fair-minded about that, it should consider returning to Sheffield those of its citizens living over the borough boundary. That would redress the balance there. It is no use for the Home Secretary to take Sheffield by itself and pretend that he had not considered any of the other matters. The Commissioners made it perfectly clear that they considered the whole country. If Derbyshire is taken into consideration, then surely these big constituencies, by all the rules and arguments of the Commission and of the Home Secretary, should not be continued.

Because of what I regard as a rather bad decision taken in another place, we have citizens of Sheffield living over the city boundary. They can easily be brought within the city, and the balance would be redressed. There is nothing reasonable or consistent in any of these proposals that the Commission has put forward for Yorkshire. That is so of any of the districts where there is a large concentration of Labour voters.

The only outcome of all these proposals is that the Parliamentary constituencies, whether laid down by the Commission accidentally, or with intent—I do not know, and it is difficult to make up one's mind—have been rigged to the disadvantage of the Labour Party. A dangerous situation is arising, and if a Tory Government were elected on a minority vote, we should have to consider what ought to be done.

2.35 a.m.

Sir Frank Soskice (Sheffield, Neepsend)

We have listened to two very powerful arguments developed by my two hon. Friends against this Order. Of course, I speak as a displaced person and leave to them the objectivity necessary in this matter. May I say that, powerful as their arguments were, they were hardly necessary in this debate.

The Home Secretary himself, in the remarkable speech with which he commended the Order, demonstrated that it was plainly and obviously unreasonable and unjustified. The case he made was that the average in Sheffield on 1953 figures with seven seats was some 52,000 and that the average with six seats was 61,000.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) at once demonstrated that the result of the change which is to be effected by the Order will be to turn a deficit of something just over 3,000 below the quota into a surplus of 5,000. A more startling condemnation of the Order could not well be conceived, so that the Home Secretary himself demolished the case for it.

Both my hon. Friends went on to point out that if and in so far as there has been in recent years an outflow of population, the strong probability is that the outflow will cease and that in any case, whether it ceases or not, the areas at present outside the city boundaries which were included in the Measure approved by this House for the boundary ex tension of Sheffield will in due course, no doubt, be incorporated within the city.

Then the electoral quota will in all probability be substantially exceeded. I suppose that some Commission in future will again step up the six seats to seven. We shall have had a succession of six seats, then seven, then six and again seven. That is the result of the activity of the present Government.

As I understand it, the Home Secretary having demolished the case on its merits—finally and absolutely demolished it by these quite unanswerable figures —then proceeded to say that the only reason for asking the House to implement the Order was that he was satisfied that the Commissioners had acted correctly in accordance with the rules and that, therefore, it followed that their decision must necessarily be right and must necessarily be implemented.

Both in this debate and in earlier debates my hon. Friends have adduced powerful arguments to show that the Commissioners did depart from the rules. Whether they did or not does not matter. Suppose for the sake of argument that they did not. Suppose that they adhered strictly to the rules. It really does not follow—and I hope that the Home Secretary will realise this—that because they adhered to the rules their decision must necessarily be right and must necessarily be put into effect.

If that were the case what on earth has been the object of the whole of our debates upon these Orders? Why have my hon. Friends on this side of the House and why have hon. Gentlemen opposite gone to such pains to demonstrate as clearly as they have that so many of the Orders cannot possibly be supported in logic or in justice? All that, due to the Home Secretary's attitude, has been a complete waste of time and effort. The whole of the energies of the House in these two debates devoted to an endeavour to try to knock some shape and reason into the Orders have been frustrated and set at nought.

I put it to the Home Secretary—and I am sure that he must have been advised in this sense by the Attorney-General—that it is his duty under the Act to deposit the Report and, with the Report, a draft Order, and that that draft Order may be deposited with or without modification. That involves the duty upon him, when he receives the Report, of bringing his mind to bear on the question of whether the recommendations—whether or not made within the rules—are themselves reasonable.

If he found instances of obvious unreason, such as he has demonstrated by his own speech, it was his plain and obvious duty to put that right. If he did not put that right by modifying his draft Order, it was his plain duty—as indeed he promised at the opening of our debates on these Orders—to keep an open mind; to listen to what was said, and to see if he thought that it was satisfactorily made out that any of these Orders needed changing.

No impartial listener to the various debates which have evolved, and the various arguments put from both sides of the House, could possibly gainsay that Order after Order has been shown to be utterly unjustifiable and incapable of substantiation. The Home Secretary said that he would keep an open mind, but not one single Order has been changed as a result. All these arguments have failed to produce the slightest impression upon the Home Secretary's stony and iron countenance and spirit. There are these Order as they originally were.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not done his duty. He has not attempted to say—and neither has the Joint Under-Secretary nor the Attorney-General—in answer to most of the arguments on most of these Orders that, on the merits, and as a matter of reason, they were not made out. The Attorney-General said how terribly sad it is that these things happen at such short intervals but we must blame the Act. The Home Secretary said, "How sad it is, but blame the rules."

That is not the answer. Whatever the Act says and whatever the rules say, the answer is that the Home Secretary himself has the power, in the first place, to modify the recommendations as embodied in the Orders he lays before the House. If he has not modified and knocked sense into an Order at that stage, he has the right to ask the leave of this House to take it back. By the terms of the Act he is given specific power to amend the Order. He could have done either of those things, and it was his plain duty to do so if he thought—as he must have thought because everyone in the House must have thought—that there was a case, on the merits, made out for changes in these various Orders. And the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not made a single change.

He said, as I reminded him a moment ago, that he was going to keep an open mind during these debates. I should like to know what is the difference between the Home Secretary's mind when it is open and when it is closed. There really is no difference discernable upon the most nice analysis. He has been a kind of impassive personage throughout these debates. He has said, "Oh, yes, but the Order was made in accordance with the rules. This is a terribly sad Act and these are terribly sad rules, but there is nothing that I can do."

It is just not true that there is nothing that he can do. The Act specifically empowers him to model these Orders as justice requires, and he has foregone that power. He has neglected his duty to this House. It would indeed be an optimist—and especially as none of the Ministers on the Government Front Bench has had the courtesy to rise and reply to the debate on the Sheffield Order—who thought that at the eleventh hour the Home Secretary would discover a tenderness of heart and say, "I agree to ask leave to withdraw this Order."

He entered this matter with his mind closed. I suppose that he got a Cabinet decision that no change was to be made. Contrary to his assertion that he would treat the matter with an open mind, he has not done so, and that statement—I say this advisedly to him—was a disingenuous statement. He has not treated the House fairly. He made up his mind, or his colleagues made up his mind for him, a long time ago.

They said that these Orders were to go through lock, stock, and barrel, and that is what we have seen during the course of these debates, which have been wholly a waste of time. Hon. Members were deluded into the belief that the Home Secretary really was acting frankly and fairly by them when he promised that he would maintain an open mind. As I have said, if he did keep an open mind on the subject, it would appear to have been no better than when his mind is closed.

In the circumstances, and having regard to the attitude of the Ministers on the Front Bench opposite, I do not think it would really assist the House to debate the matter any longer. Obviously, they will not, and, indeed, dare not budge in the matter. Their minds were made up for them by their colleagues weeks ago. That being so, and the House having been tricked by the Home Secretary and the Government, our only recourse is to register our disapproval of that kind of behaviour by a Minister of the Crown and a Member of the Cabinet by going into the Division Lobby and voting against this Order. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will all do that, and that many hon. Members opposite will also vote against the Order.

2.46 a.m.

Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)

I must object to the implication of motive which has been apparent in all the three speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which, I think, have completely marred those speeches. I wish to say that I, personally, am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) is losing his seat. I hope that he will be able to find another seat with a large Labour majority, because at the next Election he will need a large majority in order to get back.

The allegation of motive is really not justified, and I think it is unworthy of the hon. Gentlemen who made it. The fact is quite clear. Let me tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that in Sheffield we know that six seats were originally planned by the Boundary Commission in 1947. It was because the then Home Secretary put in an extra seat by Act of Parliament that this trouble has arisen. Had the right hon. Gentleman at the same time amended the rules so that they conformed with the alteration which he made in the Act, then I have no doubt that the Commission would have continued to carry out what was laid down in the Act. The right hon. Gentleman and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot now say that because they apparently omitted to amend the rules at the same time as they amended the Act, the Boundary Commission is in any way in dereliction of its duty or that my right hon. and gallant Friend is in dereliction of his duty because he and the Boundary Commission have followed the original rules.

Mr. Mulley

I am having some difficulty in following the hon. Gentleman. As I understand it, there is no rule about a difference between urban and rural constituencies. One rule which I think is important is that dealing with the question of the electoral quota. How can the hon. Gentleman explain that the Commission was bound to recommend a new division of the seat which takes it further away from the electoral quota than if it had been left undisturbed?

Mr. Roberts

It is obviously within the area of the electoral quota, as decided by the court. Apparently, the hon. Gentleman attended the court, so that he certainly ought to know what the results were.

I deprecate the reference which the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) made to Conservative associations. It was unjustified and uncalled for.

I have no doubt that there will, in the future, be further consideration with regard to the whole question of representation and redistribution. I think it may well come. Meanwhile, I believe that my right hon. and gallant Friend is perfectly correct in following the recommendations of the Commission. I do not think it is at all fair for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, who were in the first place the people to put back the seat in 1947, to complain now because the Commission is carrying out its duty.

2.51 a.m.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

The essence of the case has already been put forward by my three hon. Friends. It is the intervention of the hon. Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts) which makes me speak. He has mentioned the situation which arose at the last distribution. I should like to correct his history and to reply to his reference to the question of motive.

First, I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that the hon. Member, who generally claims to represent the interests of Sheffield, intervenes with regard to an Order which proposes, without justification—as has been clearly shown—to reduce the city's status as an electoral area, and to remove 30,000 electors from their present right of representation. A surplus of 30,000 electors is being created among the six divisions. The hon. Member has no qualms al all in supporting such an Order, which reduces the status of a city which, both by its historical and its industrial importance, ranks as one of our chief cities.

Mr. P. Roberts

There is no question whatsoever of reducing the status of the city. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have far longer connections with Sheffield than has the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), and I tell him that in Sheffield we are looking, as we have always looked, for our rights and our fair shares.

Mr. Hynd

I am glad of that interjection, because I can turn to a point which otherwise I should probably not have mentioned. The hon. Member says he has had longer associations with Sheffield than I, and that the proposal does not reduce the city's status.

It is interesting to recall that, when the Commission proposed to reduce the number of seats in Sheffield to six, the hon. Member was the only one of the Sheffield Members who was not interested in consulting with them as to the suitability and justifiability of those proposals. The original proposal happened to give him a very much better majority.

Mr. Roberts

Quite incorrect.

Mr. Hynd

When the House agreed with the views of the other Sheffield Members on both sides—who had taken the trouble to examine the position, and discuss amongst themselves the most suitable division of the city—and decided that seven seats were justified, the hon. Member, whose majority was not so well placed as under the other proposal, then became interested and was ready to enter into discussions with the other Sheffield Members.

Mr. Roberts

What the hon. Member has said is quite incorrect.

Mr. Hynd

It is within the knowledge of the other five Sheffield Members.

It is no use the hon. Member for Heeley saying that there is no motive behind his support for the Government's proposals—because the Government themselves have admitted very clearly, by implication, that the whole purpose of driving this Order through without any consideration of the merits of any case is political motive. As my hon. Friend pointed out, by quoting the Comsion's own words, the Commission has been inspired to make this change on this occasion because Parliament decided to make a different readjustment of the divisions. Only on that basis did it seek to justify its recommendations.

It is defying the position of Parliament, with the connivance of the Home Secretary and the Government side of the House. No useful purpose is served by going again into the whole sorry story of how this matter has been treated. I should only underline our protest against the complete refusal of the Commission to have any public hearing, to listen to any representations locally, to try to study in any way the social and political implications of these changes, to consider the circumstances under which there has been a temporary reduction, in my view, of the total electorate in Sheffield, and to consider the question of where and how far the boundaries are likely to be extended in the future. That is a monstrous situation.

But even if the Commission refused to have any public inquiry or examination of the detailed circumstances, and was prepared to content itself with examining a map and a series of figures, which I think every hon. Member knows in his heart is not the method by which one can readjust boundaries in this country, it could at least plead that its recommendations were general recommendations for the consideration of Parliament, and that this debate, which has now taken place over a number of days, is in fact a public inquiry, giving all the hon. Members of this House the opportunity of putting forward local experience and knowledge of the situation.

Instead of that, we find this deplorable situation, with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Home Secretary, on behalf of the Government, refusing to take any note of the representations that have been made. I hope the Government are fully aware of the fact, and the implications of the fact, that the Government of this country is not carried on under a written constitution, but is decided on the basis of tradition and practice. I hope that that will continue to be the method by which our Government is carried on, and I hope the Government will consider that very seriously, because if one party can play this game so can another.

It will be a great pity for our Constitution if this kind of thing is to go on. It is not the first time it has happened, for there was the occasion when the election of Mr. Speaker became a matter of party majority for the first time in the history of this country. I see a danger in a political party of hon. Members interfering with the constitutional practice of this country, and I leave that word with the Government: they are entering on a very dangerous course indeed.

Hon. Members


Sir F. Soskice

On a point of order. Might I ask whether it is not customary after a reasoned debate for one of the Ministers on the Front Bench to answer?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I can only call Members if they stand up.

Mr. R. E. Winterbottom (Sheffield, Brightside)

On a point of order. In view of the case which has been put on behalf of the City of Sheffield, is it not incumbent upon the Government to give a considered reply?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I have said that that is not a matter upon which I can give any decision. It is not a matter for me.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 126, Noes 79.

Division No. 27.] AYES [3.0 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Pickthorn, K. W. M
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pitman, I. J.
Alport, C. J. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Powell, J. Enoch
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Holland-Martin, C. J. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L
Armstrong, C. W. Hollis, M. C. Raikes, Sir Victor
Baldwin, A. E. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Rayner, Brig. R.
Banks, Col. C. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Redmayne, M.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bishop, F. P. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Renton, D. L. M.
Black, C. W. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Roper, Sir Harold
Boyle, Sir Edward Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T Kaberry, D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Bullard, D. G. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Scott, R. Donald
Campbell, Sir David Kerr, H. W. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Cary, Sir Robert Langford-Holt, J. A. Sharpies, Maj. R. C.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Linstead, Sir H. N. Soames, Capt. C.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon G Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Crouch, R. F. Lock wood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Studholme, H. G
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Longden, Gilbert Summers, G. S.
Deedes, W. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Sumner, W. D. M.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Errington, Sir Eric Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn.Sir Reginald Tilney, John
Fell, A. Markham, Major Sir Frank Touche, Sir Gordon
Fisher, Nigel Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Turner, H. F. L.
Fletcher-Coolie, C. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Vosper, D. F.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Medlicott, Brig. F. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Melior, Sir John Wall, Major Patrick
Glover, D. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Nabarro, G. D. N. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Graham, Sir Fergus Neave, Airey Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Gresham Cooke, R. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Nield, Basil (Chester) Wills, G.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Oakshott, H. D. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Odey, G. W.
Heath, Edward O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Higgs, J. M. C. Page, R. G. Mr. Legh and Mr. Wakefield.
Acland, Sir Richard Herbison, Miss M Popplewell, E.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hewitson, Capt. M Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Holman, P. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Awbery, S. S. Holmes, Horace Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hoy, J. H. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Blackburn, F. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Ross, William
Blenkinsop, A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Bowden, H. W. Janner, B. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Bowles, F. G. Jeger, George (Goole) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Skeffington, A. M.
Champion, A. J. Jenkins, R. H. (Setchford) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collick, P. H. Johnson, James (Rugby) Steele, T.
Corbel, Mrs. Freda Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Crosland, C. A. R. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Kennan, W. Thornton, E.
Davies, Harold (Leek) MacColl, J. E. Wallace, H. W.
Deer, G. McLeavy, F. Warbey, W. N.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) West, D. G.
Fernyhough, E. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A Wheeldon, W. E.
Fienburgh, W. Mellish, R. J Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Foot, M. M. Mitchison, G. R. Wilkins, W. A.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moyle, A. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Nally, W. Willis, E G.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Oswald, T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Palmer, A. M. F
Hannan, W. Pannell, Charles TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hayman, F. H. Pargiter, G. A Mr. Mulley and Mr. Winterbottom.
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Peart, T. F.

Resolved: That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Sheffield) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

3.8 a.m.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Carmarthenshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order slightly alters the boundary between the Carmarthen and Llanelly constituencies to bring it into line with altered local government boundaries. One hundred electors are transferred from Carmarthen to Llanelly.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Carmarthenshire) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Swansea) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order slightly alters the boundary between Swansea, East, and Swansea, West, bringing it into line with recently altered ward boundaries. Twenty electors will go from Swansea, West to Swansea, East.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Swansea) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg to move, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Newport and Monmouth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. This Order alters slightly the boundary between Newport and Monmouth, to bring it into line with the recently altered local government boundary. The electorate of Newport will be increased by some 500, and the electorate of Monmouth reduced by a corresponding number.

3.12 a.m.

Mr. Foot

I am sure that the Joint Under-Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, but I gather that there is a peculiarity about this Order in the sense that the original proposals of the Boundary Commission did not make any proposal for changes in the Newport and Monmouth constituencies, and that these proposals were incorporated in the final proposals which were presented in the Commission's last Report.

It may be that there are other cases, possibly those of Carmarthenshire and Swansea, which are similar. Few constituencies affected by these changes did not have an opportunity to consider the proposals, and the local authorities were able to make objections or recommendations.

Although these proposals may be supported by the Newport Council, it is possible that the Monmouthshire County Council may have objections; or at any rate, it might have wished to have the same opportunity as almost every other constituency had to consider the Commission's proposals.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon. Member has invited me to correct him. He is wrong.

Mr. Foot

I wish to be fair to the Joint Under-Secretary. Perhaps he will explain in which particular I am wrong.

Is it a fact that the proposals for Monmouthshire made at the time when the original proposals all over the country were made were in precisely the same terms? If the hon. Gentleman examines the facts carefully he may discover that he is wrong. If I am wrong I shall be only too happy to apologise. I think the hon. Gentleman will discover that that can hardly be the case, because the changes in the local boundaries were not made when the original Boundary Commission's proposals were put forward. It would, therefore, have been difficult for the Boundary Commission, in its earlier proposals, to have taken into account changes in the wards in Newport which then had not taken place.

Still, what is one little anomaly among all the others which we have been discussing during these debates? The fact that in Monmouth, as I understand, there was not the same opportunity as there was in other parts of the country to object to the proposals is a small matter compared with the larger matters which we have been debating. Therefore, I am not so optimistic as to think that, because I have proved wrong what the hon. Gentleman said to the House, he is likely to consider withdrawing the Order, for we have proved the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General also to be wrong.

We all know—perhaps this case is an illustration—that the Commission had a very difficult task. Nobody pretends it was easy. It was an extremely difficult and complicated task. The rules the Commission had to apply were also extremely complicated. The Commission itself said that in some cases it could not strictly apply the rules it was instructed to apply. Nobody is saying other than that the task was immensely complicated.

The more complicated, intricate, and difficult the task was, the more remarkable it is that, the Commission having made its decision, in every instance the Government should come down with exactly the same view of the matter on all these intricate problems. Surely, the more intricate the difficulties were, the more likely it was that after discussion there might have been at least one instance where the Government might have come to a different view from that taken by the Commission.

However, in no instance have the Government been prepared to accept any view expressed by the Opposition. Even more remarkable, I can recall hardly a speech from the Government back benches which has supported the Government on any of the Orders. That is surely a remarkable state of affairs. It is an insult to the House that we should have, in effect, the whole of the delicate and difficult task of dealing with the boundary changes handed over to the Commission without the Government being prepared even to consider the arguments put forward by hon. Members—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member is going wide of the Order.

Mr. Foot

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if I was going wide of the Order. Perhaps we might be excused for doing so because we have been deeply provoked by the attitude of the Government.

I hope that if the Joint Under-Secretary finds that in the dispute on this Order I was right and he was wrong he will have the grace to withdraw the Order, just as if I was wrong I shall be only too happy to apologise to him and congratulate him on being right for the first time throughout the debates.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon Member is wrong. The position is that, although the alterations did not come into effect until after the date when the recommendations were made, they had already been passed and were within the knowledge of the Commission, and so the Commission gave effect to them. Therefore, the proposal was in the original recommendations of the Commission. I do not wish to receive the hon Member's apology. It is right to say that there was a flaw in his point, as there has been in practically every point that he has made during the course of the debates.

Mr. Foot

I am extremely happy to end on this agreeable note, and to apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I was wrong, as he clearly indicates I was, and to congratulate him on having made the most powerful debating speech that he has ever made to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Newport and Monmouth) Order, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th November, 1954, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

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