Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question—[16 February]—
That the draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wales) Order 1983, which was laid before this House on 7th February, be approved.—[Mr. Mayhew.]
§ Question again proposed.10.14 pm
§ Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)
When the debate was adjourned last week, I was commenting on one or two points that had been made by hon. Members. The right hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Jones) said that the Boundary Commission for Wales was incompetent, at least to the extent that it failed to appreciate the need for what he called natural communities. In some wards or villages there might have been aberrations in that aspect of the Boundary Commission's work. I cannot discuss individual issues in parts of the country that I do not know, but if the right hon. Gentleman is serious about having natural communities represented by an electoral system, he will have to depart from the present system. It cannot be done under that system. For example, Cardiff, North-East, or Cardiff, West, or Cardiff, Central, or Cardiff, South-East can hardly be regarded as natural constituencies. Clearly, the natural constituency is Cardiff. One could say "I am the Member for Cardiff', and that would sound natural. Cardiff, North-East or Central or West is quite the opposite of a natural constituency.
Let us consider the present position of the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones). The error there will be rectified as a consequence of boundary changes in the county arrangements, but his constituency is at present three distinct parts of the county, separated by chunks of the old county of Denbighshire. It has the industrial complex along Deeside, with its steel making, textiles and aircraft manufacture. It has a small patch of the old Flintshire, with a population of about 1,000. That is essentially a dormitory suburb for Chester, Merseyside and the Wirral. Then there is a rural part of Flintshire, called Flintshire detached, with a population of about 5,000 to 6,000 people. That community is entirely different from the hon. Gentleman's present main base in industrial Deeside. It is an example of what was forced on the then Boundaries Commission, which had to accept unnatural communities because of the rules imposed on it by this House. Therefore, I cannot see the strength of the right hon. Gentleman's argument.
§ Mr. Alec Jones (Rhondda)
Despite the hon. Gentleman's lack of knowledge of south Wales—I have the same lack of knowledge of north Wales—he will accept that for a commission to produce a proposal suggesting that Aberfan village is not a part of the community of Merthyr seems to imply that the report was not based on much real knowledge of community life, certainly in the valleys of south Wales.
§ Mr. Ellis
The feature of the Boundary Commission's work over the past three to four years that has struck me more than anything else has been its readiness to respond to evidence put before it. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would be pleased that the 752 commission, to the limit of its ability, and given the terms of reference forced on it by our present electoral system, accepted the evidence presented to it about Aberfan.
The hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) said that he thought that the Boundary Commission had been far too radical and enthusiastic. He said that there were really no problems in Wales, at least compared with some of the problems that existed in England. He pointed out, for example, that we have no rotten boroughs, no deserted city centres, and so on, and that all that was needed was to tidy up a little and take account of shifts in population. I can only say that the hon. Gentleman must be living in a dream world. In north Wales, which is his part of the world and mine, we have the two counties of Gwynedd and Clwyd, which under the old dispensation would each have had four constituencies. The voting population on the 1981 count in Clwyd was 296,000, and the voting population in Gwynedd on the 1981 count was 176,000—a discrepancy of nearly 2 to 1. If Gwynedd and Clwyd were each to remain with four constituencies, the whole point of trying to get an electoral quota, or something approaching an electoral quota, would have been a nonesense. A further point arises. When the commission decided to give five constituencies to Clwyd and three to Gwynedd to meet the requirements laid on it to try to approach as near as possible the electoral quota, it meant that a particular constituency—what one might call the Welsh language constituency—was disfranchised. The rural Welsh-speaking, hill-farming Merioneth was being attached to the hotel, boarding house, coastal strip of Llandudno and was virtually subsumed within that strip, which is an entirely different society and constituency.
In order to obtain an electoral quota of somewhere within 10 per cent., and at the same time to arrange for representation of those constituencies, the only real answer is that which would have met the case of the right hon. Member for Rhondda—multi-member constituencies. That could easily be done but it means an entirely different electoral system.
If the objectors to the various proposals are serious in their claim that they are anxious to obtain genuine democratic and fair representation, they must face up to the fact that they cannot do that and at the same time insist on retaining the present system.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I want to call as many hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies as I can, but I understand that the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) has a special point to make.
§ Dr. Edmund Marshall (Goole)
I rise as a mere Englishman to seek clarification on two points that were raised before the start of the debate on 16 February.
First, my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) asked who was entitled on such occasions to sit in the place which is normally recognised to be that reserved for special Government advisers. If, on an occasion such as this, we have in that place within the precincts of the House an official of the Boundary Commission, the Government would have somebody to advise them whom they claim is an official of a completely independent body.
At Question Time on Thursday 17 February, the Prime Minister said: 753I agree that the Boundary Commission's decisions are independent".—[Official Report, 17 February 1983; Vol. 37, c. 466.]The Government cannot have it both ways. Either they regard the Boundary Commission as independent of and separate from the Government or they do not. If it is not independent of the Government, we shall know the Boundary Commission's recommendations for what they may be worth. If the Boundary Commission is independent of the Government, there is no place for a Boundary Commission official in the place reserved for Government advisers. The Government must consider their position on that matter closely so that future such orders will be debated in a proper manner.
Secondly, prior to the previous debate I raised a matter related to the spelling of one ward in the definition of the Vale of Glamorgan constituency—"Peterson-super-Ely". If that were a spelling or typographical error, I can understand that all hon. Members might regard it as a trivial point to make. However, it now appears that the spelling of "Peterson-super-Ely" in the draft order was a deliberate modification by the Government of the spelling of that ward's name as it appears in the Boundary Commission's report. If there has been a deliberate modification of the spelling of Peterston-super-Ely—it is a place which you, Mr. Speaker, know well and of which you know the correct spelling—under the terms of the statutes governing the procedure for bringing such orders before the House, the Home Secretary is required to give his formal reason for such a modification. It was shown last Wednesday evening that such a reason has to be part of the order laid before the House. Hon. Members need full clarification from the Minister on both these points.
§ Mr. Geraint Morgan (Denbigh)
My observations will be confined to the county of Clwyd to which reference has already been made by the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis). I wish particularly to draw the Home Secretary's attention to the Boundary Commission's proposals for that county, now enshrined in the draft order, and to ask him to recast its provisions, as he and the House have the power to do. I appreciate that this is asking a lot of any Home Secretary at this stage. The Boundary Commission is an entirely independent body. Any tinkering with its findings by the Government is apt to create the suspicion, however unworthy, that it savours of gerrymandering and seeking to obtain some party political advantage by so doing.
I submit that the recommendations relating to Clwyd are so unreasonable and involve so much unnecessary and purposeless ripping up of historic boundaries and community ties that have stood the test of time that my right hon. Friend would be fully entitled to and should review the recommendations in the interests of sensible redistribution, which all hon. Members would accept. My point is that the commission could have effected its purpose, adhering in so doing to the principle both of creating electorates of almost equal numbers and of not crossing county boundaries, just as well, if not better, by having regard to old-established and historic community links, as, indeed, the redistribution rules enjoin it to do. However, these links are so completely ignored that one is left with the impression that it was felt that there was some signal virtue in so doing. Such an attitude, in my view, cannot be right.
754 The effect of the recommendations for the county of Clwyd is that five constituencies will be created in place of the virtual four that exist now. I say "virtual" because, ever since the local government reorganisation came into force in 1974, there has been a parliamentary overlapping of the boundary between Clwyd and Gwynedd.
A sizeable proportion of the present Merioneth constituency has been in Clwyd and a smaller but more populous area of my constituency of Denbigh has been in Gwynedd. I mention this particularly, because no reasonable person could have any quarrel with the commission's proposals to straighten out constituency boundaries and make them coterminous with the new county boundaries. Most people accepted that this would be inevitable when the next parliamentary redistribution took place after local government reorganisation.
One could not fairly find fault with the commission's recommendations that the county of Clwyd should contain five constituencies. Clwyd has the fastest growing population of any county in Wales. The increase in the number of its electorate clearly justified the creation of five seats. If one divides the 1981 electorate of Clwyd by five, one arrrives at a figure of 59,191, which is almost the identical figure fixec by the commission as the optimum quota of 58,753 for the average Welsh constituency.
The commission was therefore plainly right in deciding that four constituencies would be too few and equally justified in rejecting the rather bizarre suggestion put forward by the Clwyd county council and by at least one district council that there should be six. This fanciful and unrealistic notion seemed to be based on the idea that there should be a Member of Parliament for every borough or district council, of which there are 37 in Wales. I doubt whether this would be a good basis or a parliamentary constituency in any event, much as it might please some chief executives. It was a non-starter both in Clwyd and in Wales generally, because it ignored the vast disparity in the numbers of electors in various borough and council areas. The result of adopting this system would have been to defeat the basic purpose of redistribution—achieving a comparative equality of numbers in electorates.
So far, so good, but at this point I entirely part company with the commissioners, who, in their proposed redrawing of Clwyd constituency boundaries, appear to have been obsessed with the numbers game to the exclusion of almost every other consideration. To achieve this, they ignored not only historic community links, but even the local government boundaries created as recently as 1974, to which the local inhabitants are only just beginning to become accustomed.
For example, a proposed new constituency boundary would run, without any rhyme or reason whatever, right through the areas of the Colwyn and Rhuddlan borough councils. Indeed, one might be forgiven for thinking that the commission was all set to disturb the new local government entities painstakingly brought into being in 1974. A particular absurdity in Clwyd is the separation into different constituencies of the towns of Rhyl and Prestatyn, united for local government purposes in 1974, which have so much affinity with each other that there is virtually no visible demarcation line between them.
In passing, I mention—mainly, though not wholly, as a matter of historic interest—that the redistribution will mean that, for the first time since 1552, the names of Flint and Denbigh will disappear from the list of constituencies 755 represented in the House. It is interesting that the first representatives of Flint and Denbigh sat in the House alongside the last representative for Calais.
The commission's proposals can be fairly criticised on another ground, too. In its zeal to achieve equal numbers of electors, it recommends constituencies that are grotesquely out of balance in geographical area. That is particularly reprehensible, because there is at present a great imbalance in the sizes of the Clwyd constituencies—Denbigh, with an area of well over 500 sq miles, being bigger than Flint, East, Wrexham and Flint, West put together. Instead of seeking to redress that imbalance, the commission has made it much worse by recommending the creation of a vast new constituency of South-West Clwyd, which would stand out on an electoral map of north Wales rather like the state of Texas on a map of the United States.
Perhaps I might digress at this point to say a word or two about the proposed South-West Clwyd constituency, which is a smudgy amalgam, if I may use that honoured expression, if ever there was one. It lumps together areas that have virtually no affinity with each other. Districts like the industrial fringe of Wrexham, largely Anglicised in speech, are thrown in with distant agricultural areas like Edeyrnion where the Welsh language is as strong as anywhere in Wales.
Small wonder, therefore, that this strange creation was condemned from the outset, not only by my party, but by Liberals and Socialists. The critics included, for example, the Maelor-Wrexham borough council and the Rhosllanerchrugog community council—neither of which is, I imagine, exactly a power house of Toryism in Wales—and, even more significantly, the group of Welsh Labour MPs and the Welsh Labour party.
All the criticism was rightly based on the undoubted fact that there was no affinity between the vastly different areas and the interests that it was proposed to fling together in the new constituency. I remember that the Liberal candidate for Denbigh was moved to write to the Denbighshire Free Press and he permitted himself a mild witticism when he said that the Liberals would never agree to a shotgun marriage between Llanfar Talhaiarn and Esclusham Below or Esclusham Above—Llanfar Talhaiarn being in the Welsh-speaking area of the old county of Denbigh and the other quaintly named places being in the Anglicised area around Wrexham.
My party in Clwyd, having given due weight to the need to adhere to county boundaries, on the one hand, and to increase the number of constituencies to five, on the other, produced, after the most careful consideration, some counter proposals that would have retained, to some extent—for they could do no more—the old Denbigh and Flint, West constituencies, even though the former would have had to cede a good deal of territory in the south to the new fifth seat. These proposals had the merit of preserving many community links, making the geographical size of the new constituencies more balanced and equitable, and, last but not least, achieving an even better equality in electoral numbers than those of the commission.
I am afraid that these excellent proposals were wrecked by the attitude adopted by those who turned up at the inquiries, particularly Socialist representatives who did a complete volte-face from their attitude of condemnation. 756 I do not quite know what to say about the Liberals, because they quarrelled among themselves and with their partners in the alliance.
The assistant commissioner—this is not without significance—in his report to the commission said that, had it been left to him, he would have preferred the Clwyd Conservatives' proposals to those of the commissioners. He went on to say, as he was bound to, that he was unable to recommend any acceptance because all the other political parties had either opposed or not supported them. One can readily understand the quandary in which he found himself.
As I said, it would be most unusual for the Home Secretary to interfere at this stage. However, I am asking him to do that on three grounds. First, the assistant commissioner expressed the unequivocal opinion that the counter proposals were preferable to those of the commission. Secondly, having come to that conclusion, he was wrong—loyalists would say that he misdirected himself—in not recommending that the counter proposals be accepted because there was no consensus among the political parties about them. Thirdly, in any event, so far as this is or should be material in this context, there had been such full consensus among the political parties at the outset.
Procedurally, this would mean the withdrawal and redrafting of the order. There can be no doubt in my view, in the interests of reasonable and equitable redistribution of constituencies in Clwyd, that that is the only proper course for the Home Secretary to take.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I remind the House that the debate will last for an hour and a half. I hope that hon. Members will bear that in mind, so that all who wish to speak can be called.
§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)
I welcome the new Minister of State, Welsh Office to the Front Bench. I am glad that his long Trappist period is coming to an end.
There has been condemnation of the report of the commissioners from both sides of the House, both in the first part of the debate and tonight. However, we should differentiate between the first report and proposals that the commissioners made and the eventual outcome. The first proposals were a load of nonsense. They were lines on maps that took no notice of natural communities. They must have been put together rapidly and with little thought. However, the second and final proposals, following the hearings, were very different. I have the impression, as have other hon. Members, that there had been a positive response to the commissioners' representations from all parts of Wales. There was a great difference between the final report and the first tentative proposals.
That is something that I welcome and that all hon. Members should welcome. The procedure of holding local hearings has borne fruit. That is all to the good. However, those local hearings could have been all the more valuable had the first set of suggestions been more sensible. That would have enabled us to look constructively at the detail rather than have to oppose, lock, stock and barrel. We could have looked in detail at some of the proposals, particularly the more nonsensical ones such as the one 757 suggesting that Aberavon should go into the Aberdare constituency, and in the north, that the Merioneth constituency should run through into Llandudno. It will be useful to put on record some of the points that future commissions should be considering in greater detail at an earlier stage, to avoid that sort of difficulty.
The commission was given very strict guidelines—or at least it interpreted them very strictly—to adhere to county boundaries and to adhere to a norm, or a quota, for a seat. In the event, in order to get constituencies that had any meaning in community terms, the commission had to depart from that strict quota or average figure.
I think that commissions would in future be well advised, rather than going rigidly for an average of 58,000 or however many votes, to start with a plus or minus 10 or 15 per cent. and to have a greater consideration of the community of interest.
In looking back to the discussion in 1948, when perhaps the greatest debates took place in this Chamber—the background to the present legislation—we can see that it was then clear that Wales, Scotland, and perhaps parts of England, had greater representation for specific reasons. Those specific reasons included the sparsity of population, the difficulties of travel and the geographical nature of those areas.
Future commissions in Wales should bear in mind that if Wales is, purely statistically, over-represented—with 36 seats compared with 31 or 32 on a straight British average—that over-representation is because of specific characteristics of Welsh geography, Welsh topology and sparsity of population. If it is right to have more seats on account of those geographic characteristics, those extra seats should be in the areas where the geographic characteristics themselves exist. In other words, an over-representation in Wales in average terms should not be used as an excuse for over-representation in those areas where there are no justifiable characteristics leading to such a representation.
The second question is whether being coterminous with country boundaries is such an overwhelmingly important basis for a commission's consideration. We have heard only a moment ago of the uniting of Colwyn Bay and Llandudno as one seat. Many people could argue that the uniting of Colwyn Bay and Llandudno would make a much more natural and homogeneous area, but that, of course, would go across the county boundaries.
I suggested in my evidence to the commission—I think that many other hon. Members have the same feeling—that on a day-to-day basis we have much more affinity and much more to do with district councils than with county councils. Indeed, an analysis of my correspondence over a period of 12 months showed that there was three times as much correspondence with the district council as there was with the county council. That should be borne in mind.
There are other equally important boundaries, such as the boundaries of the local DHSS or of the Department of Employment office. There are many parameters that come into the judgment and not just one overriding parameter, the county boundary, as has been put forward.
The final report seems to a large extent to be much more sensible than the first one. In giving 38 seats to Wales rather than 36, it overcomes some of the problems. It gives Wales a little more voice in this House. We in Plaid Cymru do not accept that that is anything like what we need to overcome our problems in Wales. But, having said all 758 that, we appreciate the way in which the commission listened at the inquiries, and we are grateful that the final report is that much better than the original proposals.
§ Dr. Roger Thomas (Carmarthen)
May I move the debate to the south-west part of Wales, to the county of Dyfed, and state that there is a unanimity of opinion within the present county of Pembroke—or rather within the Pembroke constituency that since 1974 has been within the enlarged county of Dyfed—that the constituency boundaries should remain the same. That opinion cuts right across all party political divisions, and it is with some regret that one is forced to be critical of the Boundary Commission in choosing to ignore such a great weight of public opinion. It is, of course, at present the constituency of the Secretary of State for Wales.
When there was a comparatively minor health reorganisation in Wales, the Dyfed health authority was divided into a Pembroke health authority and the remainder of Dyfed into the much larger East Dyfed health authority.
It appears that the proposed boundary change runs wholly counter to that employed in making the present constituency coterminous with the new health authority. If the changes go through part of the Pembroke health authority will be in the new constituency of Ceredigion and the much larger southern part, including the district general hospital at Haverfordwest will be in the Pembrokeshire constituency.
Alternative proposals have been put forward to the effect that there should be a tolerance of some 20,000 in the electoral quota on the ground that to use the electorate as the sole criterion was to ignore the great variations in the geographical and sociological features in Wales. Although the present Pembroke constituency has the third largest electorate in Wales, to my knowledge no complaints have been received to the effect that the area is under-represented. The absence of support for the provisional recommendations shows that the electorate is satisfied with the constituency and the status quo, if not with the status quo of the Member.
Due account should be taken of the special geographical considerations—the size, shape and accessibility of the area. The peninsular nature of the former Pembrokeshire makes it a distinct geographical entity and any attempt to hive off part to another parliamentary constituency would be a patently artificial device aimed at complying with the rules of the numbers game.
Whereas all Pembroke polling stations are now within a 30-mile radius of Haverfordwest, the commission's proposals would result in some polling stations being as far as 50 or 60 miles from Aberystwyth on which the Cardigan constituency is based. Besides being out of line with district council boundaries, the proposed new constituencies would divide other units of local government and associated bodies—the Pembrokeshire health authority, the petty sessional divisions of Dewsland, Fishguard, Haverfordwest and Narberth, the South Wales tourism council and the Development. Board for Rural Wales.
It is probably true to say that no area of the United Kingdom resisted the 1974 local government reorganisation as vocally or vehemently as did Pembrokeshire. More 759 than eight years on, the "Bring back Pembrokeshire" campaign is no less active than it was in 1974, as witness the number of car stickers to that effect still in the county.
Pembrokeshire generally regards itself still as a sociological entity. As a political entity, it now exists only as a parliamentary constituency, but any attempt to complete the task of political dismemberment would be seen as flying in the face of other developments which have tended to restore the Pembrokeshire identity.
May I say on behalf of a large section of the Pembrokeshire constituency, in particular the Presili district council, for the wards which are being transferred from the Pembrokeshire constituency into the new Ceredigion constituency, that they have taken soundings of local opinion in their wards and have encountered complete opposition to the idea of change in the parliamentary constituency boundaries, thus taking them into the Ceredigion constituency.
It is the common view that special geographical considerations and local ties should be given precedence over any attempt to approximate to an arbitrary electoral quota in determining the pattern of parliamentary representation in south-west Wales. I therefore ask the Home Secretary to reject the revised recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Wales and to retain the Pembroke county constituency in its present form.
§ Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower)
I confine my attention to three points regarding the commission's proposals for Gower.
First, paragraph 157 reads:The Gower constituency (59,792) was of a suitable size to remain unaltered, but the electorate of the adjoining Swansea West constituency (66,826) was too large to remain unchanged.The county of Pembroke is recommended by the commission to have an electorate of 66,998. Yet that figure is too large for Swansea, West. No doubt there are excellent reasons to be found somewhere for such apparent jiggery-pokery.
Secondly, the three north-eastern wards of the Gower constituency are to be included in the constituency of Neath. The rationale for this change comes in this deeply convincing sentence in paragraph 161:These three eastern wards were linked by main road to Neath.There is not a word about the fact that the main pattern of communication lies along the Amman, Swansea and Neath valleys, which run in a north-easterly to south-westerly direction. There is not a hint that the largely Welsh-speaking community, with its rich culture, is to be linked to a mainly English-speaking community. There is no mention of the fact that the proposed parliamentary boundary will split in two the large village of Pontardawe. There is not even a murmur that the transference of these wards will end the inclusion of the entire Lliw valley borough council in the constituency of Gower.
Thirdly, the Commission proposes the transfer of Mumbles to the Gower constituency. The evidence and rationale for that are given in paragraph 162:This was the southernmost ward of the present Swansea West constituency and seemed to have some affinity with the Gower peninsula.What an intriguing sentence! The latter part is worthy of repetition:and seemed to have some affinity with the Gower peninsula.760 If such a description of Mumbles had been offered by a secondary school pupil in a geography O-level examination, "Waffle" would have been confidently written on the script. No assistant examiner worth his salt, certainly in the Welsh joint education committee, could ignore such imprecision.
What could the commissioners have had in mind? If we assume that they were not using the word "affinity" in its chemical sense, perhaps they meant a structural resemblance between Mumbles and the Gower peninsula. Where does that lead us? The truth is that on virtually all criteria, Mumbles is inextricably linked with the city of Swansea. Indeed, it is a suburb of that city. Of course, affinity may be found between two areas almost anywhere on terra firma. It is clear that an adept geographer has managed to convince a spatially inept commission that insignificant similarities are elevated to the rank of affinity, while no mention is made of the obvious and significant similarities.
Those three points convince me that the Boundary Commission for Wales has produced a most unsatisfactory report. How much better it would have been had the commission turned its attention to the words of Robert Frost in "Mending Wall":Before I built a wall I'd ask to knowWhat I was walling in or walling out,And to whom I was like to give offense.The commission has redrawn lines on a map, but I give the warning that bad boundaries make bad neighbours.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
I was interested in the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) about the commissioners. The words "independent" and "impartial" have been bandied about, but in Welsh terms such terminology is untruthful. The figures are not representative of life in Wales—they are establishment figures. As late as the election of 1966, the Tory representation of Wales could have been brought to the House in a Mini with space to spare. Those people have no identity with the majority of opinion about the life of Wales. My hon. Friend asked about the secretary to the commission advising the Government from the box. Any last vestige of impartiality tends to go by the board.
Some have been surprised by the interest shown in the proposed Welsh boundary changes. People have now realised the diabolical changes that are being foisted on the people of Wales. The hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) spoke about some of my colleagues and myself tryingto cheat the hangman's noose."—[Official Report, 16 February; Vol. 37, c. 421.]All that we are trying to do is to resist the iniquitous proposals that are so detrimental to the life of Wales.
One can ask oneself "What has Wales ever had from the Tories?" Gerrymandering in Wales has been one of the least of their crimes. As a result of this terrible Conservative Government, Wales is now experiencing mass unemployment on a scale that it has not known for the past 50 years.
The commissioners simply drew lines on a map, based on numbers. They showed complete ignorance of life of Wales and ignored our mountains, valleys and, above all, our communities. Under the revised proposals, only one constituency is the same as in the original proposals. That, to say the least, is significant. but the exercise has taken 761 more than three years, and the cheek of it was that we were given only one and a half hours last Wednesday night to discuss these important changes. It is disgraceful. No wonder there has been concern.
In fairness to the hon. Member for Flint, West he described the commission as:inept and insensitive … which has done its work badly".—[Official Report, 16 February 1983; Vol. 37, c. 423.]Many hon. Members would endorse those sentiments, especially in respect of their own areas.
I have had the privilege and honour to represent Newport for the past 17 years in the House. It has had a very bad deal from a community point of view. It is argued that boundary changes are to do with movement of population. All Newport has had is butchery. Even the names of the new constituencies are a misnomer. Southeast and south-west Gwent will be more relevant to what is happening. Half of Newport is to be handed over to the one constituency of Newport, East, and the other half is to be handed over to the constituency of Newport, West. There is linkage with much of the surrounding area in respect of the two proposed new constituencies. What contribution these proposals can possibly make to the community life of Newport I am at a loss to understand.
The town of Newport has a slightly declining population. It could have been left alone, as it is a compact and centralised community. These proposals will cause a lot of problems and confusion for the people of Newport. The town is being mucked about to suit neighbouring areas. The people of Newport never got over those disastrous local government changes made a decade ago. It was a complete upheaval, which cost the earth. Now, despite all of the money that has been paid out, we have less efficient services. All that the people of Newport have had to do is pay.
Over the years Newport has seen its very good education and police service go. The control of the roads in Newport has gone as has its water undertaking. In the process, community spirit has been undermined and the identity of the town taken away. The cost in financial and community terms has been high.
When one turns to the position of local government, one realises the confusion and chaos that the Government are causing. I was speaking to the leader of the Newport council today. He said that he was completely exasperated with the attitude of the Welsh Office about boundaries and local government. There is a definite linkage between local government and parliamentary boundaries. A chaotic situation exists in Newport. The boundaries for the districts have not been finalised. The leader of the council said to me that this weekend is probably the deadline for the forthcoming May election. All manner of representations have been made to the Welsh Office. So far they have been of no avail. Newport, in view of its population, is under-represented on Gwent county council. That is not fair or just. Such anomalies need to be ironed out. Then there is Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Islwyn. I understand that their boundaries are not likely to be settled until after the county council elections of next year. There seems to be a link between these local government boundaries and the parliamentary boundary.
The Government lecture people about so-called business efficiency. They make me weep. These proposals are highly detrimental to the people of Newport. They are part of a scheme of things—a gerrymandering exercise—to obtain a better representation for the 762 Conservative party in Wales. Particularly in this climate, with mass unemployment and industrial stagnation, these efforts will be repudiated, and I hope before not too long.
§ 11.6 pm
§ Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)
I hope that the House will forgive my husky voice. It is the result of a cold that I picked up after being thrown on to the icy streets of London at midnight last Wednesday.
I am glad to catch the eye of the Chair tonight to expose the blatant butchery of my constituency by the Boundary Commission, for Wales. I should like to express and explain the tremendous anxiety of the county councils, the borough councils, the district councils, the town and community councils, political parties of various persuasions and numerous other organisations whose strength of objection should have received far more sympathetic consideration from the commissioners than that contained in this third periodical report.
I should like to cover other areas within the Principality, having received letters from various parts of Wales strongly objecting to the report, but for the moment, I confine my remarks to the Ogmore constituency, the Ogwr and Taff-Ely borough areas, where the commissioners propose a new parliamentary seat of Bridgend.
Details are contained on pages 31, 91 117 and 119 of the report, and I shall deal with paragraphs 121, 122, 125, 126 and 127, together with the revised recommendations after explaining the representations that were made before the commissioners produced this report.
The areas involved are the Ogmore constituency with an electorate of 73,993, parts of the constituency of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris), with an electorate of 23,722, and part of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John), with an electorate of 8,756.
The Ogmore constituency is shaped like one's right hand—the four fingers representing the valleys of Llynfi, Garw, Ogmore and Abercardin and Gilfach; the thumb the Pencoed and Heol-y-cyw area; the palm the town centre of Bridgend; and the base of the palm the coastal belt of Southerndown, Ogmore-by-Sea and Merthyr Mawr. It is without question one of the best constituencies in the country, with its mix of four beautiful valleys, a rural spread, a coastal belt overlooking the Bristol channel, a market town and a large trading estate.
Since local government reorganisation in 1973, the area went through amalgamation of five local authorities without any great upheaval, and the town of Bridgend became the centre of all activities, with the borough council officers based there and most of the departments under the one roof. It soon meant that all areas spreading throughout the length and breadth of the borough of Ogmore gravitated towards Bridgend. The main police station, the shopping area, the DHSS offices, the jobcentre, the bus station, the railway station, the industrial estate, the magistrates court, education offices, social services offices and many other activities are centred in the Bridgend area. Without elaborating further, this was the main centre servicing an electorate of 97,715 and a population of 125,000. The part of the Aberavon constituency of 23,722 electors is already within the borough of Ogwr and is included in the figures that I have just mentioned. The main centres of population are Bridgend, Maesteg and Porthcawl, but a number of other towns are situated to the north of Bridgend.
763 The valleys that I have mentioned, probably more than any other single influence, have shaped the pattern of life in the constituency. Socially, economically, culturally and politically, the influence of these famous valleys upon their communities in particular and on the constituencies in general has been immeasurable.
I do not apologise for taking time to emphasise what must already be perfectly plain to the House, because in my view the commissioners' proposals do not pay sufficient regard to the significance of the valleys. For example, a home interview conducted by the borough council in 1975–76 in connection with the preparation of the Ogmore and Garw district plan provided relevant information on certain links between the Ogmore and Garw valleys and Bridgend. The survey showed that 50 per cent. of the working population of the two valleys worked outside the area, and of these 32 per cent. worked in Bridgend. It showed that 24 per cent. of weekly convenience goods shopping trips were to Bridgend while for durable goods shopping trips the figure increased to 53 per cent. These figures show clearly the important part which Bridgend plays as an employment and shopping centre for the residents of the Ogmore and Garw valleys.
The commissioners' proposals to cut off the valley communities on an east-west line would create a serious and unfortunate imbalance between the two comstituencies. One is a relatively prosperous constituency with tremendous potential for economic growth, while the other is less prosperous and lacks such potential. I believe that the proposed Bridgend constituency would benefit at the expense of the Ogmore constituency and that the people of the Bridgend constituency would benefit at the expense of the people of the Ogmore constituency.
In my submission, therefore, the proposals fail miserably in numerous regards, especially for parliamentary representation. To place all the greater economic and social problems and disadvantages in one area and all the advantages in the other area is both undesirable and overwhelmingly unwelcome, to say the least. The economic and social imbalances which would result by dividing the existing constituency along the lines proposed by the commissioners would manifest themselves in, for example, housing, industry, rate income, age of educational facilities and ancillary health services, and would be made even more acute by the four wards of Taff-Ely being added to the proposed Ogmore parliamentary constituency.
These four valleys are separated by mountains rising in places to almost 570 metres above mean sea level. As a consequence of topography and road conditions, the time taken to drive by car from the top of the Llynfi valley around the main settlements of the proposed constituency and returning to Maesteg, the constituency's largest settlement, would be at least two and a half hours and cover about 70 miles.
For those reasons, I spoke at length to the inquiry held at Pontypridd on 9 and 12 February 1982 and requested a north to south division based on the rivers Llynfi and Ogmore, which would have divided the area proposed into two constituencies from the heads of the valleys to the estuary—a natural division that existed before the Tory party was even dreamt of. How much more impartiality can one display than that? In addition, the division from north to south would have given an electoral quota of 764 57,189 in one constituency and 55,553 in another, which is much nearer to the 58,000 sought by the commissioners in their original proposals.
I have already explained the essential difference between the commissioners' proposals and the counter proposals. Because there was special emphasis on the electoral quota, alternatives were offered to meet the figure of 58,000. There is no doubt that the proposals to the inquiry of the north-south division could have been achieved without offending against any of the recognised criteria. It could have been achieved without creating social imbalance and problems. It would be fairer to both Members of Parliament and would leave undisturbed the established communities of the valleys. The proposals offered would have achieved all that, and would have received the support of the people—something that the commissioners' proposals do not attract.
When we received the statement from the Boundary Commission for Wales, and the provisional recommendations for Mid-Glamorgan, it outlined in detail the rules applicable. It referred to the electorate of Ogmore county constituency as being well in excess of the electoral quota. That is quite true. I have already said that Ogmore has an electorate of 75,000. However, under the final proposals presented to the House tonight, the figures for the Ogmore constituency are reduced to 51,000. The commissioners' proposals divide the Ogwr borough from east to west and adds wards from the adjoining constituency of Pontypridd.
Following the publication of the commissioners' recommendations for the parliamentary constituency of the county of Mid-Glamorgan on 25 June 1981, discussion by numerous groups took place and 60 organisations presented their views. They had memberships of 100 or more in accordance with the rules and guidelines laid down by the commissioners. In addition, numerous individuals and small groups expressed separate opinions. Of the 60 organisations, 57 objected to the proposals and only three supported the commissioners' recommendations. Those three are listed as the Aberavon Conservative Association (Porthcawl Branch), the Ogmore Conservative Association and some dubious body called the Rhondda Conservative Association.
At the Pontypridd inquiry in February 1982, 21 organisations, directly or indirectly, verbally or in writing, submitted proposals supporting the alternative division of the borough of Ogwr to that of the commissioners—their proposals being a division from east to west, and the alternative proposals being from north to south, using the rivers Llynfi and Ogmore as the natural division. The organisations objecting included the Mid Glamorgan county council, the Ogwr borough council, the Taff-Ely borough council, the Llanharry community council, the Llantrisant and Llantwit Fardre Trades Council, the Mid Glamorgan county Labour party, the Aberavon constituency Labour party, the Ogmore constituency Labour party, the Ogwr borough Labour party, the Pontypridd constituency Labour party, the Welsh parliamentary Labour party, the Members of Parliament for Aberavon, Pontypridd and myself, and many other groups and individuals far too numerous to mention, but contained in the report of the local inquiry for Mid Glamorgan. All those mentioned requested a division from north to south. Pages 26 to 43 of the 53-page report of the inquiry deal with the division of Ogwr borough and the extra seat.
I could go into graphic detail on the number of representations, but I know that other hon. Members wish 765 to speak. I could list numerous alternative proposals that we, the Ogwr borough and the Mid Glamorgan county Labour party have presented, but I shall hurry along and refer to rule 7 on the electoral quota. That is disregarded for Ogmore, as it has been throughout the Principality. Furthermore, section 2(2) of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1958 refers to the fact that the commissionersin discharging their functions … shall take account … of any local ties which would be broken by such alterations".The local ties in the present proposals have been not merely broken but savagely butchered and severed—it is worse than the recent murders in Cricklewood that we have been reading about.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. In the spirit of good will which prevails tonight, he might bear in mind that the Opposition Front Bench would like some time to wind up, and I am sure that the House will wish to hear from the Minister.
§ Mr. Powell
That is why I made my point of order last week and why I requested you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to consider extending the debate. For two and a half hours I spoke at the inquiry at Pontypridd. Even then I had to trim what I had been requested to say by many people and organisations in the Ogmore constituency and the Ogwr borough area.
If the order is passed, its effects will last for at least 10 to 15 years, and could last until the early part of the year 2000 and beyond. The House allowed the commissioners to spend more than three years compiling their report, and inquiries to take place, but we are allowed only one and a half hours to debate what will happen to 36 constituencies and the creation of two extra seats. That is a total disregard of the rights of Members of Parliament, who should be here to expound on their constituents' behalf the reasons why the order should not be accepted.
It is essential, important and imperative that we get the boundaries right. The proposals will probably last for 15 years. I cannot understand the Government's undue haste. Are they going for an Easter election or an earlier election than June? Why should we not have a full-scale debate on the issues affecting Wales? Hon. Members would like to raise issues on their constituents' behalf. I tabled an amendment. It has not been called as the order is not amendable. If we cannot amend the order to make a difference for the one seat of Ogmore, we have to call on every hon. Member to vote against the order, whereas we could well be satisfied with most of the Boundary Commission's suggestions.
Despite the shortage of time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I must say that, although there is tremendous support for a north to south diversion with proposals for sharing the electorate to ensure the electoral quota, within a few hundred, we must ask why the commissioners did not think that the alternatives commanded greater acceptance locally and complied with the statutory provisions and the commission's principles. Why did it not agree to the great public support for a change in its proposals? Why did it not hold a further inquiry after receiving those representations?
It is suggested that the proposals are formulated by the commission from its position of independence and impartiality. If that is so, is it not passing strange, to say the least, that it completely ignored the views of all the 766 numerous objectors and accepted the support of three Conservative organisations. That smacks of hyprocisy as much as if not more than the Franks report, if that is possible.
I am firmly convinced that the parliamentary constituency of Bridgend 'was designed with the politically motivated bias of attempting to create a Tory seat. The electors of Ogmore will not allow such gerrymandering and if the proposals go through tonight they will turn out in force to return a Labour candidate to show their utter disgust at the Boundary Commission's proposals and total disregard of the legitimate objections raised inside and outside the House.
I regret that I must conclude because I have enough to say to last another hour and a half. As the proposals will last for 10 to 15 years, if there are objections—even if only to one or two seats in the Principality—Parliament should be able to amend and alter the proposals. I have listed my action on behalf of my constituents. I have complied with all the rules. I believe that I have made my case. Therefore, if the Home Secretary is not prepared to listen to the arguments and table an order to amend, I shall ask the House to reject the proposals and vote against them tonight.
§ Mr. Donald Coleman (Neath)
The tenor of the debate this evening has been, I think we can all agree, far less acrimonious than was the case last Wednesday evening when the House previously debated the order. Perhaps that is because the Government have learnt not to be dismissive of representations that are serious and of great importance to many people.
My right hon. and hon. Friends sought last week by means of points of order to carry out a duty that was laid upon them as hon. Members. It was the Government's responsibility to seek to deal sympathetically with the issues that they raised rather than to be seen to he driving the order through the House at all costs. We have had to come back to it and in doing so we have had a much more even-tempered debate in which all hon. Members have been able to express their justified concerns and worries about the effects of the order and the Boundary Commission's proposals on their constituencies, and, more importantly, on their constituents.
There is a matter outstanding from last week's proceedings that concerns me. I rose on a point of order which, upon a reading of Hansard, I find received no reply. I return to it again tonight, not as a point of order but as a question to the Minister. On the assumption that the point of order of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) was correct and that the Secretary of State had failed to fulfil his statutory duties, since we have had an order made and shall presumably proceed to pass it, what certainty is there that the order will be valid? What recourse have my constituents, who would be affected by the order, if it is found to be invalid? This is an important matter. I would be grateful if the Minister of State can assist the House, my constituents and myself in the matter.
I wish, on behalf of the Labour party, to place on record our appreciation of the action of Mr. Justice Talbot and his fellow commissioners in arranging for the informal exchange of views in Cardiff when we took advantage of the opportunity to express our opinions, although others did not.
767 This debate has demonstrated that Wales is not fully satisfied at the outcome of the Boundary Commission report. A number of expressions of dissatisfaction have been heard tonight. My hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Dr. Thomas) has referred to the position in Pembroke. There is no part of Wales that has shown more feeling about what is proposed than Pembroke. It still smarts from what was done by the Tory party in the 1974 reorganisation of local government. This has never been accepted by the people of that part of Wales. Now, along comes the Boundary Commission, under another Tory Government, further to hurt the pride of the people of Pembroke.
Time does not permit me to go further into these matters as I would have wished. My right hon. and hon. Friends and some Conservative Members have voiced their fears about the position that will be created in Wales. We shall not oppose the order tonight. I hope, however, that what has been stated on both sides of the House will cause the Government to consider, even now, whether the Boundary Commission has got it right.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)
I have listened carefully to everything that has been said tonight and in the debate last week. One factor that has emerged prominently is the sincerity and fervour with which right hon. and hon. Members have spoken from both sides of the House in defence of local loyalties and links, often of long standing, which regrettably are to be disrupted if the proposals of the Boundary Commission are given effect.
I agree with the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman) that all the worries that have been expressed are valid. The hon. Gentleman asked me what would be the position if the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) were correct and the Home Secretary had failed to fulfil his statutory obligation to lay a statement of his reasons for making any modification if, indeed, he had made a modification. It is not for me to pronounce on what the position on law might be in hypothetical circumstances. However, section 3(7) of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 states:The validity of any Order in Council purporting to be made under this Act and reciting that a draft thereof has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament shall not be called in question in any legal proceedings whatsoever.I consulted my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, in the absence abroad of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, and he authorised me to say that, having considered the arguments, he has expressed the view that the draft constituencies order does not effect a modification of the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Wales contained in its report.
It is important to emphasise that we are dealing with the recommendations and report of a commission that is not the creature of any Government of the day but is a wholly impartial commission created according to a formula approved by Parliament to secure its very impartiality. It is important that that should be borne in mind.
The commission has been unable to base its final recommendations on new local government boundaries 768 and district wards in every instance. That is naturally disappointing, but the commission was required by statute to submit its proposals to reduce the present disparities in electorates between 1979 and May 1984. As there was little prospect of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales completing its special community and district reviews by May 1984, it would have been dangerous for the Parliamentary Commission to have deferred the start of its review, or the submission of its report, any longer. Had it done so, the next general election would have been fought on boundaries based on 1965 electorates, during which time an entire generation of new electors has emerged.
This does not mean that the changes that have still to be made to local government areas and district wards, which will result in the new constituencies being divided by new county boundaries or new district or ward boundaries, cannot be rectified before the commission completes its next review in 10 to 15 years' time. As I said last week, it is open to the commission to make interim recommendations to take account of such changes where it thinks it right to do so. It does not have to be at the motion of the Government of the day; it can do so of its own motion. That is important. Such reviews are intended to take account of changes in local government boundaries. I think that the commission will give sympathetic consideration to requests for such reviews.
Necessarily I have a short time in which to reply to the issues that have been raised, but I feel that I should deal with the points made last week by the right hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Jones). He expressed his disagreement with the commission's recommendations for Pembroke and Ceredigion. I understand his view. The right hon. Gentleman's criticisms of that part of the report were supported today by his hon. Friends the Members for Carmarthen (Dr. Thomas) and for Neath and by others. I am aware of the degree of concern that has been expressed. The commission took the view that the electorate of the Pembroke constituency would be nearly 80,000 if it acceded to the objections that were made. My right hon. Friend is confident that it would be unacceptably high. However, I fear that what was said last week and today is not sufficient, in the Government's view, to justify a modification of the commission's recommendation.
The right hon. Member for Rhondda also referred to the recommendations on Ebbw Vale, Abertillery, Rhynmey, Porterdown and the upper Swansea valley, particularly as regards the transfers from Gower to Neath, which were also raised by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell). The commission faced a difficult problem because, although the Gower constituency was an acceptable size, the remaining constituencies were not. Alterations to them inevitably involved alteration to the Gower constituency. Representations made to the commission after the local inquiry clearly commanded much sympathy among its members, but, as they explain in paragraph 174 of the report, they found that they could not accede to the objections without creating unacceptable disparities.
When considering whether the Home Secretary ought to modify some recommendations, to meet a local anxiety, such as that voiced by the hon. Member for Gower, we have to bear in mind that there is always a knock-on effect which can cause further disagreements.
My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) spoke eloquently of the anxieties in his constituency, and he was joined tonight by my hon. and 769 learned Friend the Member for Denbigh (Mr. Morgan). I have time to deal only cursorily with their case. The assistant commissioner concluded that the commission's proposals for Clwyd were not seriously at fault or unworkable, whereas the counter proposals were opposed by the majority at the local inquiry.
The main reason why the existing constituencies had to be radically altered was that Clwyd is entitled to five seats. The existing Denbigh constituency has parts in the county of Gwynedd; Merioneth, most of which is in Gwynedd, has parts in Clwyd; and Flint, East is divided into three parts. One can sympathise with the commission's feeling that it had to make fairly radical changes there.
The hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) spoke about Peterston and Peterson. The ward in question was created by the Borough of Vale of Glamorgan (Electoral Arrangements) Order 1982 and the spelling of the name in the draft Order in Council reflects that in the electoral arrangements order. The commission's recommendations contains a typographical error, the correction of which is not a modification. A modification within the terms of the Act has to modify the effect of the commission's recommendations and not be a mere typographical inaccuracy.
I understand the anxieties that have been expressed, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is convinced that they are not sufficient to enable him to meet the anxieties by modifying the recommendations of the Boundary Commission. I believe that the House can confidently give effect to those recommendations in toto.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 9.771
|Division No. 74]||[11.43 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)|
|Ancram, Michael||Chalker, Mrs. Lynda|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Chapman, Sydney|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone)||Cockeram, Eric|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Colvin, Michael|
|Banks, Robert||Cope, John|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Corrie, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Costain, Sir Albert|
|Bendall, Vivian||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Critchley, Julian|
|Benyon, Thomas (A'don)||Crouch, David|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Best, Keith||Dover, Denshore|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Dykes, Hugh|
|Blackburn, John||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)|
|Blaker, Peter||Eggar, Tim|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Elliott, Sir William|
|Bowden, Andrew||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Bright, Graham||Fairgrieve, Sir Russell|
|Brinton, Tim||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Brotherton, Michael||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n)||Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Forman, Nigel|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.||Fox, Marcus|
|Butcher, John||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Murphy, Christopher|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Myles, David|
|Goodhew, Sir Victor||Neale, Gerrard|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Needham, Richard|
|Gorst, John||Neubert, Michael|
|Gow, Ian||Newton, Tony|
|Gray, Rt Hon Hamish||Onslow, Cranley|
|Greenway, Harry||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|Grieve, Percy||Osborn, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Grist, Ian||Page, Richard (SW Herts)|
|Grylls, Michael||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Parris, Matthew|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Hannam, John||Pawsey, James|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Penhaligon, David|
|Hastings, Stephen||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul||Pollock, Alexander|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)|
|Heddle, John||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Henderson, Barry||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Hill, James||Renton, Tim|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Hooson, Tom||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Hordern, Peter||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Howells, Geraint||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Rossi, Hugh|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.|
|Irvine, RtHon Bryant Godman||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Jessel, Toby||Scott, Nicholas|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Silvester, Fred|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Sims, Roger|
|Knox, David||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Lamont, Norman||Smith, Sir Dudley|
|Lang, Ian||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Speed, Keith|
|Latham, Michael||Spence, John|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Sproat, Iain|
|Lee, John||Squire, Robin|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Stainton, Keith|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)||Stevens, Martin|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)||Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Loveridge, John||Stokes, John|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|MacGregor, John||Thompson, Donald|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Thorne, Neil (IIord South)|
|Madel, David||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Major, John||Trippier, David|
|Marland, Paul||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Marlow, Antony||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Viggers, Peter|
|Marten, Rt Hon Neil||Waddington, David|
|Mates, Michael||Wakeham, John|
|Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Waller, Gary|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Ward, John|
|Mellor, David||Watson, John|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Wells, Bowen|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Wheeler, John|
|Moate, Roger||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Whitney, Raymond|
|Moore, John||Wickenden, Keith|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Mudd, David||Wilkinson, John|
|Young, Sir George (Acton)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Younger, Rt Hon George||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
|Cowans, Harry||Skinner, Dennis|
|Cryer, Bob||Welsh, Michael|
|Martin, M(G'gow S'burn)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|O'Neill, Martin||Dr. Roger Thomas and|
|Parry, Robert||Mr. Gareth Wardell.|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Wales) Order 1983, which was laid before this House on 7th February, be approved.