HC Deb 03 March 1983 vol 38 cc424-63 7.20 pm
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)

I beg to move, That the draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1983, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved. The Boundary Commission for Scotland submitted its third periodical report to me on 18 February. I laid that report before the House on 24 February, together with the draft order designed to give effect without modification to the recommendations of the Boundary Commission about the parliamentary constituencies into which Scotland should be divided. If the draft order is approved in both Houses, I shall submit it to Her Majesty in Council. Article 1(2) provides that, while the order comes into operation on the 14th day after the day on which it is made, the new boundaries will not be effective until the next general election.

When a Secretary of State receives a report from a Boundary Commission, he has a duty under section 2(5) of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 to lay that report before Parliament, together with a draft order giving effect, with or without modifications, to the recommendations contained in that report. Any decision to make modifications to the recommendations would have to be based on outstandingly good reasons, with very clear justification, because Parliament has decided that the task of reviewing parliamentary constituencies should be placed on Boundary Commissions that are clearly impartial.

In Scotland, the deputy chairman is a judge appointed by the Lord President of the Court of Session. The two members are appointed after consultation with the various political parties. The present deputy chairman, the Hon. Lord Ross, was appointed in January 1977. The present members—Professor Gordon Cameron and Mr. Andrew Evans—were appointed in April 1976. I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for carrying out an extremely difficult and onerous task, which was not made easier by the knowledge that they could not satisfy everyone. My impression is that, although criticisms have been made of certain recommendations affecting individual constituencies and areas, there is general acceptance that the recommendations as a whole are on the right lines.

The Boundary Commission has a duty in a general review to look at Scotland as a whole, and to observe criteria that are not of its own making, but which have been devised by Parliament, although in a way that allows the commission some degree of flexibility. Some may argue that the commission has been too flexible, others that it has not been flexible enough.

The commission, which gave notice of its intention to proceed with its review on 16 February 1978, had to take account of the significant changes arising from local government reorganisation. It decided that, as far as possible, constituencies should not cross regional boundaries and should be composed of electoral divisions within regions. That it succeeded more with the first than with the second may have caused some heartburning in Tayside and Grampian, and possibly other areas, but it would be hard to disagree with the principle.

The commission was faced with divergent views about the best way to divide the region into constituencies. Where it considered that it would be helpful to its consideration of those views, it asked me to appoint assistant commissioners to hold inquiries into proposals or revised proposals in accordance with the normal, precedented practice. The sheriff principals were asked to undertake those inquiries, unless there was good reason why they could or should not. Where that was not possible, eminent counsel were asked to undertake the inquiries. I pay tribute to the way in which the inquiries were carried out and to the clarity of the reports made to the commission. As a result of one of the reports which related to Glasgow, the Boundary Commission decided to depart from its original intention that Scotland should continue to have 71 seats, and to recommend an increase to 72 seats.

I wish especially to stress that in the light of any criticism that may be levelled at the assistant commissioners the relevant recommendations in the Boundary Commission's report are made by the Boundary Commission members themselves, in the light of the findings of the assistant commissioners.

No doubt hon. Members will have points to make both generally and about the changes as they affect their own present or prospective constituencies. One of the tables in the report that illustrates best both the need for the review and the success of the Boundary Commission in equalising constituencies is table 3 of chapter 4 on page 98. It shows that there are unlikely to be any constituencies with an electorate that is more than 20 per cent. above the average, and only a handful with more than 20 per cent. below the average, which will be mainly in the islands and the widespread rural areas.

Of course it is uncomfortable, and sometimes more than that, when boundary changes are made. But the demographic principle makes them inevitable. Appendix G of the report shows, on the basis of the 1982 electorate, seven of the existing constituencies each having an electorate of more than 70,000, while, at the other end of the scale, there are 10 constituencies each with fewer than 35,000 electors. With a range from 105,269 in Midlothian to 17,348 in Glasgow, Central, I do not think that anyone could argue that population changes over the years have not produced a situation calling for a revision, if the principle of broad equality of voting power is to mean anything.

While some may claim that too much attention has been paid to numbers and not enough to geographical considerations and local ties, it would be hard to dispute that it is right that within Scotland each person's vote should, as far as practicable, carry the same weight.

In the debate on the work of the Boundary Commissions earlier this week, it was suggested that it might be desirable to avoid such a wholesale upheaval by having more frequent and general reviews. I can understand and sympathise with that point of view, but there are strong arguments in the other direction. First, it is not long since there were more frequent reviews—in fact, every three to seven years. Indeed, it was only in 1958 that Parliament revised that system by laying down the present period of 10 to 15 years between general reviews. We should not forget that, although there have been considerable population changes since the last general review, that is not the only, or even the main, reason for the major changes in constituency boundaries now found necessary by the commisions.

To population change there has on this occasion to be added the effects of the major reorganisation of local government that took place during the 1970s. Since that radically redrew the boundaries of local government areas, it had of necessity to be reflected in the new parliamentary constituencies. So we should not imagine that changes on the present scale will be inevitable at the next general review. Although there may be a case for more frequent reviews, there is also a case for more stability in electoral areas. Neither local government electors nor parliamentary constituents—any more than hon. Members themselves—like too frequent changes. So we should not too readily decide that the present system of reviews every 10 to 15 years is unsatisfactory.

The Boundary Commission is of course bound by the rules laid down for it by Parliament, and this was not the only statutory requirement to attract criticism during Tuesday's debate. There were, for example, differences in view on the weight to be attached to numerical and geographical considerations. Criticism was also made of the legal requirement on the Boundary Commission to use the electorate figures for 1978, the year in which it commenced its review. As the report makes clear in paragraph 27, the commission did nevertheless, as appropriate, have some regard to perceptible trends in the electorate, which would quickly produce constituencies above or below the average size electorate, when deciding between alternative schemes. It would appear that the commissioners paid more attention to known changes up to 1982 rather than prospective changes after that date which were obviously more difficult to forecast. This was particularly relevant to areas covering the new towns and also Grampian region where, as the commission noted, it was less certain of the future rate of growth.

It was essentially because of the uncertainty of growth or decline in the electorates that the commission indicated that it would keep under review the boundaries of certain constituencies in Strathclyde region and Grampian region and in other areas where there may be evidence in future of significant increases or decreases in electorates.

Although the next general review may not take place in the next 10 to 15 years, the commission has indicated in paragraph 278 that it will make recommendations when necessary under section 2(3) of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 in light of significant changes in electorates and also of alterations of local authority boundaries. I mention this to avoid any impression that the constituencies established by this order are fixed and immutable for the next 10 to 15 years, though I should make it clear that it is for the Boundary Commission, and not for the Secretary or State of the Government, to decide whether or when to carry out an interim review.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

I hope that this is a convenient moment to ask the right hon. Gentleman a general question. Both for the record and because from time to time the point is made south of the border, will he say why, historically, the position he described for Scotland, that each person's vote should carry roughly the same weight so far as is possible, does not apply in the rest of the United Kingdom? Why is the average constituency in Scotland so much smaller than that in England?

Mr. Younger

That has traditionally been so for a number of reasons. The principal one is that Scotland has much more widely scattered areas than other parts of the United Kingdom. There are a number of other reasons, but the basic aim is the same north and south of the border.

I conclude by again thanking the Boundary Commission for its valuable work in carrying out its review over almost five years and by commending to the House this draft order which would implement its recommendations without modification.

7.33 pm
Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

It is natural that any time the Boundary Commission reports on a major review of this nature there are bound to be hon. Members who are dissatisfied with the final recommendations.

I do not intend to go into the detail of the report, but I do wish to mention one or two points on particular inquiries later in my speech. While clearly not everyone is wholly satisfied with the way in which the Boundary Commission has carried out its work in Scotland, at least the results there do not seem to have aroused quite the same anger as the work of the Boundary Commission for England south of the border. I suppose that we should be grateful for that. I shall have some criticisms to make of the Boundary Commission for Scotland as I go through my speech, but they are set against the background that the commission's job is not easy, and, as I said in the general debate on Tuesday on the boundary arrangements, the rules which the commissioners are obliged to follow, interpret or use as guidelines—whatever the status of the rules may be—are not the easiest to understand.

I made a number of general points during the debate on Tuesday. The House will be glad to know that I do not intend to repeat them at length, because I am sure that all Scottish Members will have read them carefully. Nevertheless, I wish to summarise what I said during that debate.

The rules are difficult to understand, but there is a clash between rule 4, which requires that the commissioners must have regard to local authority boundaries, and rule 5, which deals with obtaining, so far as is practicable, an equality of votes between one constituency and another. Since the rules themselves have been tested in the recent action over the English boundary recommendations and since the Law Lords have decided, in interpreting rules which are basically the same for Scotland as for England, that rule 4 should have precedence over rule 5, for that reason alone the House will have to consider the rules as a whole some time before the next boundary review.

Until now most hon. Members have worked on the assumption that equality of votes has to be the primary consideration. The reviews should mostly be concerned with setting to right discrepancies in the size of electorates which inevitably arise between one review and another. It is rather surprising, to say the least, that we should now be told that adherence, so far as possible, to local authority boundaries is a more important consideration in these reviews than obtaining, so far as is practicable, equality of votes. The fact that that has now been the subject of a judicial decision will presumably have some influence on the next Boundary Commission review in Scotland, as well as in England and in Wales, unless there is some clarification or amendment of the rules in the meantime. While I realise the special circumstances in Scotland with regard to geographical considerations which, in effect, are dealt with under rule 6, I nevertheless believe that, other things being equal, rule 5 should take precedence over the consideration of local authority boundaries. I hope that we shall be able to consider that some time in the next Parliament, or in good time before the next Boundary Commission review.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

While the right hon. Gentleman is thinking about that longer-term indication to the Boundary Commission of how things might go in future, may I ask whether he thinks that we should start moving gently towards the concept of fewer Members of Parliament in view of the major changes that have been taking place in society and communications over the years?

Mr. Millan

If the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) is volunteering, I do not think that anyone will hold him back. As a general proposition, and to treat the hon. Gentleman's point seriously, I do not accept that. In many respects, greater burdens are now placed on Members of Parliament. Arguments about improvements in technology and communications and so on easing the burdens are not particularly convincing or, at least, are not working in my case. They may be working for other hon. Members. Those are much wider considerations than the ones with which we are dealing tonight.

On Tuesday I drew attention to the fact that there were differences in approach between the English, Scottish and Welsh Boundary Commissions—for example, with regard to overall numbers. The Scottish commission uniquely among the three started with a predetermined total and worked from that. Subsequently that total had to be adjusted. I thought that it was wrong in principle that the commission should start with a predetermined total. That approach is not compatible with what happened in England and Wales. It is worrying that there are different approaches to the interpretation of the same rules in the three countries. That is another argument for looking again at the rules.

There were differences in approach by the three commissions to rule 6—the geographical consideration rule. There were also differences in approach in practical terms as to what the commissions did about movements of population after the enumeration date. It is not clear that any commission is entitled to take into account any change in population beyond the enumeration date. The English commission believes that it is not empowered to take any movement of population into account. That has given rise to considerable dissatisfaction south of the border, because England's enumeration date was 1976. There have been tremendous movements in population since then. The Scottish commission took a more relaxed view. Whether it was entitled to do so is a matter of considerable argument. That should be looked at.

I do not want to go into these matters in great detail as, in a sense, they are for the next review, or for modification of the rules before the next review. The commission's recommendations for Glasgow raised many serious issues that were connected not just with the local situation but with the way in which the commission approached its task. We should look at those matters fairly soon and not wait until we are right up to a new review when none of us, to be absolutely frank, is completely objective about them. It is better to look at them early in a new Parliament and a long way from the next general review.

I shall refer to one or two points about the procedures of the commission that I mentioned on Tuesday. The difficulty about the commission not having any consultations before producing its provisional proposals is that some of the provisional proposals do not stand serious examination. I think that many hon. Members will take that view. I thought that some of the provisional proposals for Glasgow were foolish and could not be justified. It was difficult to understand how they were produced in the first place. We want to avoid bias in the original proposals. If the commission had said to me, "How do you think we should divide Glasgow?", I would have been delighted to tell it. However, I am not suggesting that. I would have fewer problems than I have at the moment if I had been able to do that.

There are difficulties about preliminary consultation. The present system is not satisfactory. More important, the absence of reasons for the provisional recommendations is a serious fault in the procedures.

I shall refer to my experience. The provisional proposals came out in June 1981. We were asked to make objections and representations by the end of August 1981, which I did. The inquiry was fixed for February 1982. Shortly before the inquiry we had a statement of reasons from the commission. It was not a full statement on the boundaries, but it contained arguments about the total number of seats for Scotland and about how it arrived at the total for Glasgow.

I make two points about that. First, those of us who made representations did so in the dark, because we did not know on what basis the commission made its decisions. We could not direct our criticisms or objections to the commission's reasons, although they were given shortly before the inquiry in a sense as a basis for the inquiry. That is absolutely absurd. My representations would have been differently worded or would have included other material if I had known what I was arguing against. However, we learnt what that was only when the inquiry was due to start.

The procedure has a second disadvantage. Far from objecting to this, I thought that it was extremely desirable. The commissioner in Glasgow—I hope it happened elsewhere—accepted representations right up to the last minute. I have no complaints about that. However, if one puts one's representations in at the last minute rather than at the original due date, one can comment on the commission's reasons and on the other representations which are circulated to all the people who ask to be represented at the inquiry. Therefore, there is an advantage in not putting in representations at the due date but waiting until all the other material is available. That procedure cannot be sensible.

The commission's reasons ought to be published with the provisional recommendations so that we can see why the proposals have been made. At the moment we get the worst of all worlds. We do not know the reasons at the beginning, but suddenly they are given before the inquiry—sometimes in an inadequate form.

I hope that the Secretary of State will look into the matter. It is not a matter for the rules. The legislation does not compel the commission to give reasons at any stage. Perhaps we should put an obligation on the commission to give reasons.

I have no complaints about the Glasgow inquiry—the very opposite. The assistant commissioner, Mr. Prosser, did an extremely fair job. The inquiry was conducted extremely well. I hope that that was so in other parts of Scotland as well. I have had no representations to the contrary.

However, I must deal with the central region inquiry and the appointment of Sheriff Taylor as the assistant commissioner. My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), who is not in his place at the moment, and others have made serious criticisms of the Secretary of State and the commission for the appointment of Sheriff Taylor, who earlier in his lifetime was a Tory candidate on three occasions. I hope that this will not be misunderstood. I am making no personal allegations against Sheriff Taylor. I am not complaining about the way in which he conducted his inquiry. If there are complaints to be made, they can be made by others, not by me.

No person who has been a political parliamentary candidate should be asked to conduct such inquiries. It does not matter whether he is Conservative, Labour, or whatever. That is undesirable. The commission says in its report that a non-political person is asked to conduct the inquiries. Plenty of competent lawyers are available in Scotland to conduct those inquiries. It is not necessary to ask the sheriff principal for the area to carry out the inquiry. That did not happen in Glasgow, for example. It is unfortunate if such appointments are made.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I earnestly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not good for politics to say that because someone has been a Conservative, Socialist, Liberal or whatever, he is incapable of making a fair, reasonable and objective judgment.

Mr. Millan

That is not what I am saying. It is not a case of people being incapable of making a fair judgment; it is simply that the object of appointing an assistant commissioner is to put a non-political person in charge of an inquiry. I do not believe that the Secretary of State disagrees with that in principle. One ought to avoid the appointment to such inquiries of anyone who has held a public political position. It was a serious mistake, and I am sorry that it happened. I am not criticising anyone, but the Secretary of State should not have made that appointment. I hope that we will learn from that case and that whoever is responsible for appointments of assistant commissioners to any subsequent inquiry will scrupulously ensure that no one who has held a public political position is appointed. In view of the representations that were made about the assistant commissioner's report, it would have been better if a further inquiry on the central region had been held.

There are other areas where it is difficult to justify the Boundary Commission's conclusions. I do not want to go into them in detail, but I shall simply pick up a point that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) made on Tuesday. It is not sensible that reports provide for a general election on the new boundaries at any time after the publication of the order. I believe that the whole House agrees with my hon. Friend that there should be a delay from the time of the order's publication to its becoming effective. He suggested three months. I do not know whether that applies in this instance.

The laying of orders is almost entirely in the hands of the Government of the day. However, I suggest that there should be a delay. I shall not go into the argument whether in this case the Government have rushed the order through. Nevertheless, it is not satisfactory to say that once the order is passed, it is possible to have a general election on the new boundaries within a month. In terms of party political organisation, that is absolute nonsense. We should consider that issue before we have another Boundary Commission review.

Having said that, I do not intend to ask the House to vote against the order. By and large, subject to the qualifications that I have given, the Boundary Commission conducted its work extremely well. We should allow the order to pass without a Division.

7.52 pm
Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

It is not often that I follow the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and agree with nearly everything that he has said. The only exception was his criticism of the inquiry in the central region. I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) said. Too often we disparage politicians and write ourselves down as being incapable of making decisions in later careers. If one has been prepared to serve the country as a politician under whatever party, there is no reason why that should preclude one from holding high office and taking important decisions in a non-political environment.

Much of the history of the Boundary Commission has been told this week. There is, therefore, no need for me again to relate the important historical events. Like the Secretary of State and the right hon. Member for Craigton, I pay a warm tribute to the commissioners for the reports that they have produced. They have been extremely well written and lucidly explained. The maps have been most beneficial. That tribute should be extended to those commissioners who have conducted the local inquiries. They listened carefully to the evidence and sifted it. By and large, their conclusions seem to be generally acceptable, although there are some cases that have been hard for those concerned to bear.

The way in which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State introduced the order is very different from what happened in 1969 when orders were laid by the Labour Government and voted down. That should never have happened and I hope that it will never happen again. We have today the opportunity to redress the balance that should have been struck in 1969. Had it taken place then, much less change would be essential now and the process would have been more gradual. The present dramatic changes are necessary because of that failure in 1969.

There are two points which should be discussed constructively today. The first is whether there should have been a predetermined number of constituencies. That is what we understood there to be when the commissioners started their review. The second relates to the heavy emphasis on the phrase having regard to local authority boundaries. The commissioners eventually made the case for 72 seats in Scotland. That was against the firm guidance with which we approached the local inquiries. We were told that there would be 71 seats and that, so far as possible, local authority boundaries would not be crossed. Had we known that those two conditions could have been breached we might have had different considerations during the inquiries.

We will all miss the traditional names of the constituencies and their size. We had grown accustomed to them. There are now only five one-county, one-Member constituencies in the United Kingdom and they are all in Scotland: Inverness, Argyll, Ross and Cromarty, Banff and Dumfries. It is sad that that tradition will go because of what the commissioners have announced is essential.

Until 1918, there were always two Members of Parliament for the county of Dumfries, one who represented the county and one who represented the burghs. Since 1918, there has rightly been just the one, although there was the addition of Maxwelltown in 1948. Since then, the constituency has remained unchanged. As a result of the commissioners' findings, we are now to have a substantial change.

The commissioners set a target of 53,649 voters for each constituency. The anticipated figure in Dumfries for 1982 was 67,183 and for Galloway it was 42,237. The commissioners accepted that the two constituencies were out of balance and decreed that Dumfries be reduced to 57,600 and that Galloway be increased to 51,900—an exchange of 9,500 voters. Galloway now becomes Galloway and Upper Nithsdale.

As I have said, it might have been possible to find another solution had we known that the commissioners were prepared to be more flexible about the boundaries and the total number of Members of Parliament.

With many hon. Members who will lose constituents because of the change, I am sad about losing those whom I have represented for some years, especially those from Upper Nithsdale, Sanquhar and Kirkconnel, which have major unemployment problems, and those from Thornhill and Moniaive. The law states that they must go. I am glad that they will be in the able and competent hands of my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Lang), although in future the constituency will be called Galloway and Upper Nithsdale.

However, eyebrows may be raised about the insistence on numbers and boundaries, because it does not produce equality. We all accept that the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland and Caithness and Sutherland have exceptional geographical reasons for having much smaller electorates than other Scottish constituencies. But it is hard, even allowing for the commissioners' insistence on not crossing regional boundaries, to believe that the two Border seats should have electorates of 36,000 and 41,000 respectively, because they are much smaller than almost any comparable area in Scotland and will be over-represented. The commissioners argued why that should be so, but again the arguments might have been different had we known that there could be 72 or even more seats in the final analysis. A more equitable decision might have been made about the mainland of Scotland, although it would have required crossing some regional boundaries.

We must remember that the regional boundaries were drawn up for the 1973 local government reorganisation, and no one drawing those lines on the map related them to possible changes in parliamentary constituencies in future years. There is too much emphasis on the regional boundaries, and we should have left the parliamentary boundaries much as they are.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I confirm what the hon. Gentleman says because I was a member of the Royal Commission that produced the draft. At no time did we consider parliamentary boundaries.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

The hon. Gentleman must have been very naive.

Sir Hector Monro

I am glad to have that confirmation from the hon. Gentleman, who played such an important part in the Royal Commission's deliberations. It may now be too late, but had that information been given to the Royal Commission before it made its inquiries the solutions might have been different.

We accept the proposals, which are a genuine attempt to produce the best solution. On the whole, the commissioners have done a good job and I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State brought the proposals to the House at the earliest opportunity.

8.3 pm

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

At the last general election I had an electorate of 62,571, which was the 17th largest electorate of the 71 Scottish constituencies. However, if one leaves out the big four constituencies—Midlothian with 101,000, West Lothian with 85,000, East Kilbride with 78,000 and Renfrewshire, West with 78,000—the other 13 constituencies fall in a band between 62,000 and 68,000, so my constituency is not far down the list.

My constituency's area is the largest not just in Scotland but in the United Kingdom. It covers about 4,000 square miles, and I am told reliably that it is 200 square miles larger than Cyprus. As a result of the Boundary Commission's intense deliberations for nearly five years, my electorate will be about 65,000, which is an increase of about 3,000. I have not computed the change in area, but I doubt whether it is much. However, the distance from one end to the other has increased from roughly 240 miles between Inverness to west of Dunvegan in Skye, to about 260 miles from east of Nairn to Ardnamurchan point. The outcome of the commission's labours has given given me a larger electorate that is about 10,000 more than the average size of new constituencies in Glasgow—65,000 against an average of 55,000 in Glasgow—and about 11,000 or 12,000 above the electoral quotient for Scotland. The area is much the same, but transport is more difficult, and because it involves changing a constituency community that has existed for more than 60 years—the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) made this point—allegiance and association inevitably become more difficult. No one could regard this as an improvement, setting aside entirely my natural sentiment for such places as Skye, which I regret losing.

The entire exercise is based on the assumption that the single-Member constituency elected on a first-past-the-post basis achieves a fair and sensible opportunity for the elector to approach his elected Member and to achieve a reasonable representation of political opinion. It would not be in order for me to present an argument for proportional representation, but I am entitled at least to register my dissent from the system on which I am called to comment.

It is extraordinary that the eminent gentlemen who make up the commission took so long to produce so flawed a document. Paragraph 8 on page 6 of the report states: We are not required to enter into consultations with political parties, local authorities or any other bodies before formulating our provisional recommendations. Indeed we consider that these provisional recommendations could best be arrived at without regard to conflicting suggestions. We were thus in a position to be wholly impartial when making these recommendations. To plagiarise Lord Blake's article on proportional representation in The Times today, this fits well into Bentham's category of "nonsense on stilts".

We have a strange tradition in this country that the only people capable of being objective are those who know nothing about the problem. The tradition stems from a profound suspicion of the politician's capacity to be fair—a matter upon which the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) surprisingly dwelt—but I would say, as a minority man, at least so far, that if one put all the party professionals in Scotland into a hotel for a week they would produce a result every bit as good as that of the Boundary Commission after five years of deliberation. Even allowing for the fact that our electoral system can be manipulated—a point made by the right hon. Member for Craigton—and having dealt with professionals in other parties for more than 20 years, I am confident that they would be realistic and I am not afraid of them being unjust. I underline the point that I made in an intervention, which was also made well by the hon. Member for Dumfries, that we do ourselves no good to suggest that politicians of whatever party are incapable of sitting down and reaching reasonable conclusions.

I am considerably dissatisfied with the way in which we communicate our decisions to the voter. Many people took part in the hearings arranged by the commission all over the country to make points about shopping centres, bus routes and what they believed to be the correct shape of their community. The conclusions are now published in these two documents. How does the electorate get them? It goes to Her Majesty's Stationery Office and pays £20. How many punters or ordinary people can do that? My party in Scotland did not receive a copy. I dare say that the press was deluged with first editions, although no one else received them. That is unsatisfactory. I should like to be reminded of what the exercise cost. Party professionals in a hotel in Glasgow or anywhere else might cost a wee bit, depending upon circumstances and the proclivities of the members, but I am sure that they would not cost as much as this.

Thirdly, I object strongly to the timing of the Boundary Commission's decision to increase the number of seats in Scotland from 71 to 72 and to its decisions for so doing. On page 96 of the report it says that it was because of Glasgow: We maintained this view until we considered the report of the assistant Commissioner on the Inquiry into our provisional recommendations for the City of Glasgow. That is splendid and bully for Glasgow, but not much use for anywhere else. It is not much use to the highlands or the Grampian area. In both cases the Boundary Commission did not allow sufficiently for the population spread in the highlands or the population dynamics in Grampian.

Witnesses were giving evidence on an incorrect assumption. That was unfair and unjust. My party in the highlands would have given evidence if an extra constituency was an option. The Conservative party suggested an extra seat. The Liberal party, in its radical way, suggested the maintenance of the status quo. We were trumped by the exercise, although we were not opposed to it. We sat down solemnly in private and said, "The Tories have done this; why should not we?" Our conclusion was that it was improper and was not allowed by the guidelines. There was a great deal of confusion which was not helpful to anyone.

I do not believe that Glasgow had a case for an extra seat. One can practically spit across most of the areas in Glasgow. To demonstrate my objectivity, I say to the right hon. Member for Craigton, that I do not believe that an extra border seat was justifed on sparsity of population. The size of the two border seats is remarkable when compared with others.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

He is a suicide pilot.

Mr. Johnston

Fortunately, my right hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) is not present.

Mr. Foulkes

He can read.

Mr. Johnston

While witnesses were told that they should not transgress regional or district boundaries, the Boundary Commission appeared to make hay with them all over the place. I was involved in preparing a case for the Inverness Liberal association. We worked out something that meant breaking down district boundaries but decided that it was not acceptable. We ditched the plan. Subsequently, however, we found that the Boundary Commission was doing it all over the place. Greenock is an example of where the Boundary Commission crossed a regional boundary—the Minister looks puzzled, which is fairly normal—to maintain the district council ward boundary. That is unsatisfactory. Inverness is gouged out from two areas—Drumnadrochit and Cannich. In Charleston the Boundary Commission slices a bit off the urban area. It makes no sense.

It is a lesser point but appendix D makes comparisons between 1978 and 1982. The inexperienced punter might say: "This is just before the last election compared to now." It is not. They are the new constituency boundaries in the terms of their 1978 electorate compared with now. There is no proper way, in tabulated form, of comparing the new constituency electorates with the old. That is not satisfactory.

This is the type of debate which I, and I am sure many other hon. Members, find frustrating. We know that there are many things wrong. We are told by the Secretary of State: "Tough luck, nothing can be done about it, and it will not change." We feel still that there are some matters that should not be changed. If it is the Boundary Commission's aim to create roughly equal constituencies where the opportunities for the electors and the burdens on the Members of Parliament are equivalent, it has not succeeded.

8.16 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)

I agree with much of what the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) said, particularly with his view that politicians, or anyone who has even been involved in politics, should not be excluded from making decisions when objective decisions are called for.

I was surprised and a little shocked by what the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) said about the appointment of Sheriff Principal Taylor as an assistant commissioner. I refute the ghastly allegations made by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), because Sheriff Principal Taylor, who is the sheriff principal of Tayside, is highly regarded and respected by all strands of Tayside society. I wish that could say the same about the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire.

Mr. Canavan

What is the hon. Gentleman's majority?

Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)

Sheriff Principal Taylor is sheriff principal for Tayside and the central region and his sheriffdom stretches from Dundee to the boundary of the central region.

Mr. Walker

I stand corrected. I deliberately excluded that and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand why. I am concentrating on Tayside, which I feel is relevant. I speak from my knowledge of Tayside. I hesitate to comment on "all strands of opinion" in areas outside Tayside, because I could not be sure that I would be reflecting the view's of people whom I do not know.

It is also interesting to speculate on what would have happened if the appeal, such as it was, had gone to the Court of Session, Second Division, where Lord Wheatley, a former and distinguished Labour Lord Advocate, or Lord Hunter, a former Tory candidate, would have had to make a judgment. I wonder whether the right hon. Member for Craigton was seriously suggesting that these gentlemen would not have given a fair judgment. It is nonsense to suggest that someone who at an earlier stage in his career has been seen as a party politician should always stay that way. In this country we stand as party politicians with an aspiration to being elected. Many people afterwards leave the party with which they started and change their allegiance. Some have changed their allegiance while still hon. Members. As time goes by, the individual's views change. To think that someone who has started with a party political view will stay with that view for the rest of his life is naive.

Mr. Canavan

Has the hon. Gentleman changed his allegiance?

Mr. Walker

It is unlikely that I should do that. I have not changed, and I am not likely to do so. I have been of the same political opinion ever since I found that I could not stomach the behaviour and antics of the people masquerading as Labour politicians in Dundee. I discovered that at an early age and consequently have never changed my views and opinions. I say "masquerading as politicians" because there are doubts in some quarters about whether these people are actually Labour members. I imagine that there are some Labour politicians who doubt whether the gentlemen to whom I am referring are Labour members.

It would have been interesting if we had known at the outset that there would be an increase in the number of seats from 71 to 72. I have no doubt that different and more representations would have been put to the commission. I looked at what they were thinking about for the Tayside region in the knowledge that there would be no crossing of regional boundaries and that there would not be more than 71 seats in Scotland. I decided that I could not, in connection with what was happening in my constituency, put forward a case which would stand up to close examination—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire is still making comments from a sedentary position. He suffers from sour grapes. I do not suffer in that way because I realised at an early stage that there was nothing that I could suggest that would be acceptable, based on 71 seats. I do not feel, now that there are 72 seats, that I have lost anything. I just feel that perhaps it would have been better if we had known at the outset that there was the possibility of having 72 seats. Things would have been presented differently.

I recognised at the outset that the key to the numbers lay in the manner in which the city of Perth was to be dealt with in the proposed new constituency. The decision of the commission to split my constituency and that of Kinross and West Perthshire east-west rather than north-south, as they were previously, means that the new constituency of North Tayside is to be a large rural constituency spreading from the Moulin moors in the west to Letham in the east. With the roads to Perthshire and Angus and the Angus glens running north and south, no one can doubt that such a constituency will place a considerable burden not only on the Member of Parliament but on the party political organisations.

To bring the numbers up to an acceptable level, Scone, which has always been considered to be a part of Perth by those living in it, had to be included in the constituency. It is difficult to see how a commuter community such as Scone can have much in common with Aberfeldy, Kirriemuir or Forfar. The other new constituency of Perth and Kinross makes sense. The road system follows the line of the constituency and the problems of travel will not be of the dimension faced in North Tayside.

The commission was right to accept that Gowrie should be included in Perth and Kinross. I hope that this augurs well for Longforgan and Invergowrie when the local government Boundary Commission next looks at Dundee district boundaries and that they will be included in Perth and Kinross district council rather than Dundee district council.

I accept that the voters in Lundie, Muirhead and Birkhill who at present are in the South Angus constituency will object to the Gowrie area, of which they are part, being included in Perth and Kinross. I am confident that this will be preferable to the alternative, which was to be swallowed up by the city of Dundee.

The commission has carried out a difficult job well in Tayside. It is to be congratulated on the way in which the work was carried out.

8.26 pm
Mr. John Home Robertson (Berwick and East Lothian)

We have just heard the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) staking a claim for the Conservative domination of North Tayside. He suggested to the Minister that the new Member for North Tayside in the next Parliament, whoever he is, will have to be provided with a helicopter to cover his constituency. The hon. Gentleman may have one qualification—only one—as a representative of the people of that area. I gather that he can fly—but whether under his own steam I do not know.

The point has already been made that the Boundary Commission for Scotland had a difficult job to do. It had peculiar criteria under which to work and it came up with some strange answers. The constituency in which my constituency will be spread will range in terms of electorate from the new East Lothian constituency with an electorate of 63,000 to the new Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale constituency with an electorate of only 36,000.

The Boundary Commission was told that it had to work within the existing regional county boundaries. Given that the Borders regional council has an electorate of 80,000, which is obviously too big to be one constituency, logically there had to be two constituencies, which, according to the general shakedown of the review, will make two ridiculously small constituencies in terms of electorates.

I think that the commission has done a good job in terms of redistributing parliamentary seats in Scotland given the shortcomings and difficulties of the criteria within which it had to work. However, it has to be said that tonight we are breaking up some ancient and respected burghs and counties. In that sense, I suppose the real damage was done in 1973 when the Local Government (Scotland) Act was enacted. From that day on the Boundary Commission's hands were tied.

As I have said, my constituency will be split in two. At present it consists of two former counties—Berwickshire and East Lothian. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) will know something about this because he visited the area on one occasion. It is an area of 724 square miles—rather bigger than his present constituency. Each of those former counties had its own Member, first in the Scottish Parliament and, after the Act of Union in 1707, in the House of Commons. They were joined in 1918 when the new constituency, which was originally called Berwick and Harrington, was constituted.

In 1918 the Boundary Commission did a very good job because that constituency has had about the right quota of electors ever since, finishing up with about 63,000, as it is now. But from the political point of view, it did a terrible job because it created an appallingly marginal constituency, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South will bear witness. He had to move to bluer pastures in Morningside after his brief sojourn in Berwick and East Lothian.

The constituency has changed hands on numerous occasions. It started off as a Liberal seat in 1918. It had its first Labour Member in 1923, and it is a great honour for me to be the last Member for Berwick and East Lothian. East Lothian is to have its own Member of Parliament again. In the past it has had distinguished Members. In the Lloyd George Cabinet, Mr. Haldane was the Member for East Lothian, so perhaps the new Member for East Lothian might also hope to get Cabinet office at some time.

It would be wrong of me to let this debate pass without mentioning the sad fact that the proud old county of Berwickshire is finally to be split asunder. In that sense the Boundary Commission is picking up where Edward IV left off. Five hundred years ago, in 1482, he took Berwick away from Berwickshire. Now the Boundary Commission is finally taking Lauderdale out of Berwickshire. Lauderdale will become part of the new Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale constituency, towards which I understand the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) is casting his eyes.

My family has had a long association with the county of Berwickshire and with what was previously known as the eastern march of the Scottish borders. In the course of my parliamentary duties as Member of Parliament for Berwick and East Lothian I have regularly been present at the riding of the bounds of the ancient burgh of Lauder. The purpose of the riding of the marches is to check that nobody has intruded into the territory of the burgh. Last year when the riders went out from the burgh of Lauder to ride round the marches, they came back and reported to the provost and myself that an intruder had been seen on the boundaries—the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles. I am happy to say that on that occasion he was seen off. I understand that, emboldened by the review that we are debating, he is going to try again, and has made a public statement today that he intends to seek election for the new constituency of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale. That will be a decision for the good citizens of Lauder and elsewhere, and I have no doubt that they can be relied upon to come to a characteristically sensible conclusion.

Nevertheless, I think it must be said that it is sad that Berwick and East Lothian, as a parliamentary constituency, is to be broken up. It is sad, too, that the county of Berwickshire is to disappear finally from the map. I wish that could have been avoided.

It has been difficult in these past years to represent the constituency, which includes parts of no fewer than six local authorities. Clearly, this must apply to many hon. Members who have been representing Scottish constituencies in this House since the local government boundaries review in 1973.

The Boundary Commission has taken account of new local authority boundaries. I cannot say that it has not done a better job than might have been done in certain circumstances. We could do worse than to cast our minds back to the allocation of seats in this House following the Act of Union in 1707, when a constituency called Caithness and Bute was created. I do not know how anybody in 1707 managed to represent a constituency which went from the extreme north-eastern point of Scotland to an island in the Firth of Clyde. I am glad that a similar stupid mistake has not been made now.

8.34 pm
Mr. Michael Ancram (Edinburgh, South)

It is a great pleasure in a sense to follow the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) who, as he rightly said, represents an area with which I had a connection over some time.

Mr. Home Robertson

Six months.

Mr. Ancram

Indeed. During that six months I learnt enough about that constituency to be somewhat surprised to observe the crocodile tears that he was shedding tonight for losing Berwickshire from his constituency. Over that perhaps we should draw a veil.

I am also delighted to see in his place the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan). When the debate started and his absence was echoing around the Chamber it was rather like Hamlet without the prince. Now that he is here the debate can fulfil the potential that has been advertised for it over the past week. We appreciate his problem. I do not think that any hon. Member would want to see his constituency disintegrate into seven pieces and we understand why he does much of what he does. However, the idea of the hon. Gentleman splitting into seven pieces himself gives us a prospect of a pyrotechnic marvel of a sort that we rarely see.

I welcome the Boundary Commission's report. It has been a long time coming and those of us who have waited nervously to see its final outcome would agree with the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millar)) that, overall and in general, it has done a good job. Obviously there are difficulties within it. There are certain inconsistencies and each hon. Member will have his own view about those. However, there are certain general inconsistencies which have been touched on and which, in a debate on an order such as this, it is for the House to consider because we may have learnt some lessons from this Boundary Commission for the future.

The first matter that has been touched on is that of the population figures. I understand that the commission was asked to come to its conclusions on the basis of the populations within the various regions in 1978. It has done us a service because it has printed in brackets the population figures for 1982 alongside the 1978 population figures. It is quite staggering how the population of the Grampian region has increased over that time. Yet the Boundary Commission seems to have felt itself bound by the 1978 population figures in the view that it took in distributing the seats within that regional area. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire.. East (Mr. McQuarrie) is nodding in agreement.

As I understand it, the purpose of the rather strange way in which the commission works is that it is a lengthy process but that during its course the commission is entitled to look at things as they develop. It listens to new evidence and takes new representations. It is a moving system which is able to take account of developments. Yet it appears that the one development that it cannot take account of is population change. Therefore, in the commissioners' report the one region in Scotland where there has been a major population increase is one for which they have reduced the number of seats by one. That is serious enough to warrant looking at when the House decides whether the rules for such commissions should be changed.

The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), with whom I sympathise and agree completely, touched upon the way in which, in its preliminary recommendations, the commission announced that it had resolved that there was no justification for more than 71 seats. I do not have the exact quotation, but if I remember it correctly the word "resolved" was used. I remember noting that carefully at the time. The word "resolved" implies that a fim decision has been made. That, as the hon. Member for Inverness said, was the basis on which many of us made representations to the individual inquiries as they took place. Whatever we did—after all, we are all politicians here; we have to take an overall view of representation in Scotland as well as local areas and their particular needs—it would be on the basis of 71 seats. Thus, if we asked for one more in the highlands, as the hon. Member has rightly recorded my party did, we would not be seeking an extra one somewhere else, because to do so would be to create confusion.

Although I took the view that the word "resolved" meant that this was part of the remit within which the commission would eventually reach its decisions and if we were to make responsible submissions to the various inquiries we should keep this particular part of its remit in mind, in the end we were left making what I regarded as responsible submissions from all sides within this context and, suddenly, at a very late date, found the rug dragged from beneath our feet.

If in future we are not to pay regard to the determinations that are made by the commission when it makes its provisional recommendations, we are opening the door to all sorts of irresponsible and confusing submissions being made at every inquiry. People may ask why they should stop at one more seat for any particular area. They may feel that they can ask for four or five seats and that it does not matter because in the end the commission will reach its own decision. If, in what is a very complex situation anyway, we all asked for what we could get, the job of the commission would be much more difficult than it was this time when we were all trying to work within responsible guidelines.

I was, therefore, surprised to read, on page 10 of the report, although the commission does not use the word "resolution", In all these circumstances we determined that for the purpose of formulating our provisional recommendations the number of constituencies in Scotland should remain at 71. I hope that the next Boundary Commission will make it clear at the outset that, if it states a number of seats, it will be merely for the purpose of formulating its provisional recommendations, because on this occasion many of us were misled by what it said.

I must ask what the system is, because, having been through this process, I am still slightly at a loss to understand the method by which the Boundary Commission reaches its final decisions. Does it weigh up the balance of opinion? As I read the report, on occasion it seems almost to have weighed opinion in an area and decided to go with the majority. Does it merely count the objectors?

There was a very interesting situation in my constituency, which has changed only a little. There was a change from one area to another between the preliminary recommendations and the secondary recommendations and it was made on the basis of the local Labour party putting in an objection, together with one individual. Although I am always sad to lose any part of my constituency—particularly the Braidburn area—and although it was not a particularly significant change, to make it because there are one or two objectors and no answer to them seems to me a very strange way of proceeding.

Is the commission using its own judgment? If so, I should have preferred to know at the beginning because it would have been easier to make our recommendations.

In the debate on the English boundaries the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) asked whether the changes were political. If politics does matter in boundary revisions—if I understood his argument, he believes that that is inevitable—let us be honest and open about it. At the moment there seems to be a veil of secrecy or mystery surrounding the commission which I would prefer to see removed.

I must join my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) in deprecating the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan). The person who is named in it is a judge.

Mr. Canavan

Some judge!

Mr. Ancram

He is not in a position to answer back.

Mr. Canavan

He should not have been appointed.

Mr. Ancram

It is unfortunate that attacks of this sort are made when the person who is attacked is not able to reply. I think that most hon. Members would agree with that comment. That person has been appointed to that position because it is accepted in our system that, whatever a peson's political views may have been in the past, once he becomes a judge he exercises the functions of that office without fear or favour, which means without bias of any kind. The second most senior judge in Scotland, and one of the most respected, Lord Wheatley, had an important and respected career as a Labour Member of this House and a member of a Labour Government. To suggest that a person's political past will affect the way in which he behaves as a judge is a scurrilous attack on the judicial system.

Mr. Canavan

The Table Office would not have accepted the amendment if it had criticised Mr. Taylor in his capacity as sheriff. The amendment criticises his appointment and capacity as a reporter to a public inquiry. As for speaking back, I well recall that in The Scotsman about a year ago Sheriff Taylor hit back at comments that I had made in the House. He is perfectly capable of speaking for himself instead of using a lackey like the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), his Tory party chairman.

Mr. Ancram

For one marvellous moment I thought that the hon. Member was going to finish a serious point without descending to his usual style of invective, but perhaps I was too hopeful.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Craigton did not mean what he said, because if we cannot accept that sheriffs—who are, after all, judges—are in a position to act without bias we shall be in serious difficulties. We cannot examine the background of every judge and sheriff in Scotland. They have all held personal and political opinions in the past. It must be understood within our society that a judge is the most likely person to be unbiased.

The right hon. Member for Craigton and the hon. Member for Inverness referred to comparative electoral numbers in different areas. As a city member, I examined some of the figures for the cities. I discovered an extraordinary situation. The average number of electors required to elect a Member of Parliament in Glasgow will be 55,500. In Edinburgh, however, it will require 58,000, in Aberdeen 59,000 and in Dundee 64,000. I had always realised that the calibre and competence of Edinburgh Members was greater than that of Glasgow Members so that fewer were needed to represent the city, but until I read the report I had no idea that the analogy went further and that the competence and calibre of Dundee Members was so highly regarded by the Boundary Commission.

If there is to be city representation, there must be some equality between the various cities. We all know that Glasgow has many problems that other cities may not share, but the suggestion that it should return Members on the basis of far smaller electorates than Dundee begs a number of questions and does nothing for the democratic system of our country.

In my constituency the changes are small. I welcome the district ward of Murchiston which will come into my constituency, and I am grateful to the Boundary Commission for changing its mind about taking Morningside away. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) rightly remarked that I had moved to blue Morningside only to find in the original recommendations that the commission was taking it away from me. It is an important part and in many ways the heart of my constituency, and I am glad that it is to stay.

I pay tribute once again to the Boundary Commission for producing such a competent report with the difficult system that it has to operate.

8.49 pm
Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

I shall follow the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) on only one point—the numbers representing cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. If he were to go back to the original proposals of the Boundary Commission, he would see the logic of the Glasgow proposals. No doubt the Commission made its original proposals not because Glasgow is the industrial heart of Scotland and generated its basic wealth at one time, but because of the way an earlier Boundary Commission had divided the city and the region into regional seats.

The original proposals would have made it difficult for those who were not highly political—or even for those who were—to know which constituency they were in, because there would have been different boundaries for the district council seats, for the regional council seats and for the parliamentary seats. In a democracy people want to see a relationship between regional councillors, district councillors and Members of Parliament. My constituency party produced maps to the Boundary Commission and ultimately proved that 11 seats were reasonable for the city of Glasgow, with three regional council districts to each parliamentary constituency.

One of the most fundamental points relates to the names of constituencies. I understand the impossibility of amending the draft order. If amendments were possible, unless they were limited to names, the debate on the Scottish proposals, never mind the England and Wales proposals, would go on indefintely.

When the old Woodside and Kelvingrove constituencies were amalgamated into Kelvingrove, the constituency which I represent, it made good sense topographically. In other words, when the Boundary Commission looked at a map of the Clyde valley and the Kelvin valley, that seemed intelligible, but it made no sense in terms of the old communities. I tried to pick a central point for my advice centre. I discovered that although it was central and well served by transport, the people of Partick, Anderston and Maryhill wanted their own territorial identity. Therefore, I had to have advice centres in each of the areas to satisfy community need.

It is interesting to observe that not one part of the old burgh of Hillhead is in the existing constituency of Hillhead. This brings me to the new constituency which I hope I shall have the honour to represent in the next Parliament. There will be a small part of Hillhead burgh in the proposed Hillhead constituency. Representations have been made to me by people who are slightly offended that the old burghs of Anderston, which is as old as the city of Glasgow itself, Govan and Partick, have been given no precedence in terms of names.

I do not want to go through the same procedure as the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker), but I understand that there are about 24 distinct, historic districts within the Hillhead constituency, which is an important district but by no means the most important in the area. As I said, we have the old burghs of Anderston, Partick, Whiteinch and Yoker, which have been lost to the relatively smaller old burgh of Hillhead.

I should have been delighted had it been possible to change the name of the constituency. I consulted widely across the political spectrum of people in the area, where I have lived for a long time, and found that the name Kelvin would have been acceptable to almost everyone. Of course, many other names were suggested: Clyde, Clydeholm—meaning land adjoining the Clyde—Western, Hillside. Carlyth and Harland. They are all old names in the area. I realise that it is too late now, and I have explained why, but I hope that the next Boundary Commission will pay attention to how people identify with areas. How can we expect the people of Yoker or those on the borders of Scotstoun West or Scoutstoun or Whiteinch to believe that they are part of Hillhead? How can people who live in Buchanan street be expected to identify with Hillhead, when the new constituency will stretch from Buchanan street to the bridge at Yoker or Kingsway, and take in part of Anniesland Cross?

This may seem a minor point compared with the numbers in areas but it is important for people to be able to identify themselves with the area in which they live. When they hear the name, they feel that that is where they belong, that it is related to the parliamentary constituency, the regional constituency and the district constituency.

I hope that what has been said in this debate will be taken into consideration by those who draw up the terms of reference for the next Boundary Commission. I hope, too, that they will not lightly overlook the importance of local names with which people can identify.

8.57 pm
Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

I agree with much of what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) said, because it will be confusing for many electors to work out the constituency to which they belong, and recognise it by reference to a community name.

I am only marginally affected by these boundary changes, but I was surprised to see in one of the first tables produced by the Boundary Commission that I had the second largest constituency in Scotland, the largest then being Dundee, West. Significantly, however—this point was raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram)—there are continual changes in population. The population in Grampian region has shot up during the past four years, and the population of Dundee is declining, partly because commuters are moving out of the city into country areas, and also because of the industrial rundown. As a result, there are fewer opportunities for employment in Dundee, and the population is thus dropping.

Although the report is broadly acceptable to most Scottish Members—except, perhaps, to those whose constituencies are fractured—it does have deficiencies. Some were the fault of the commissioners in the way that they tackled the job. Some were due to the change of mind that they displayed when they allowed Glasgow an extra seat, having previously intimated that no extra seats would be available.

The commissioners were unwilling to look at Scotland as a whole. The relationship of Scottish constituencies to those in other parts of the United Kingdom appears early on the record. During the past few days, the House has heard some complaints, mostly from English Conservatives, about Scotland's representation. Although there has been an erosion over the past 20 to 25 years in Scotland's representation in proportional terms, it has been partly made up by the additional seat that has been awarded to Glasgow. I do not begrudge Glasgow that additional seat. No doubt a powerful argument was put to the Boundary Commission. Glasgow was lucky that the commissioner was willing to accept the argument and recommend an extra seat.

Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Member spoke of Glasgow being given an additional seat. He knows as well as anyone—although someone reading the report of the debate might not realise it—that Glasgow will have fewer seats than at present. The additional seat is additional to the preliminary recommendation of the Boundary Commission.

Mr. Wilson

I was assuming that I was preaching to a Scottish audience who would know the position. Coming from the west of the country, perhaps I have an advantage. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) was right in explaining the position for the benefit of those who do not come from the west of Scotland.

The problem of Dundee losing part of its population is reflected by what has happened to Glasgow during the past 20 years. It has lost a huge part of its population. That is why its representation was reduced. It was to have been reduced more than is the case.

Had I been an aficionado of cruel sports, I might have relished the sight of the reselection conferences taking place in the Glasgow area as Members fought for a home in the next parliament. That does not detract from the argument that other areas would have been entitled to additional representation had the Boundary Commission started on that basis. The arguments made from all political viewpoints would have been to try to secure constituencies that were reasonable in size and in population to the area they covered, and which reflected existing communities.

When communities are disturbed, the Boundary Commission has done something wrong. It would have been far easier to look at Scotland overall and decide how many constituencies were relevant to Scotland. Hon. Members know that the duty of the Boundary Commission is to try to keep within the minimum number of 71. To begin with, the Boundary Commission construed that as a maximum rather than a minimum. Strange figures appeared. In 1978, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth had 39,000 electors, Cunninghame, South 49,000 and Livingston 46,200. Those are both rural and congested urban areas. They contrast substantially with the position of Dundee and Aberdeen that have large electorates.

The argument originally adopted for Scotland was that, because of the remoteness and dispersed nature of the population, there should be a higher representation. That was stretched in different ways compared with what was originally intended.

Some peculiar constituencies have appeared. North Tayside will be justified after it has been in existence for 20 to 25 years and has established a community of its own. It runs from Aberfeldy in the west to Forfar and beyond in the east. It has no natural road communications link to help to bring it together. It will be a difficult constituency. I expect that, after the Boundary Commission looked at Dundee and other parts of Tayside, it found that it was left with a huge crescent.

The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) was rightly embittered by his experience. There is no doubt that Inverness and Ross and Cromarty are huge areas of terrain that are difficult for any hon. Member adequately to represent. The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) has yet to make his contribution to the debate. I am sure that he will be ferocious about what has happened to him.

One small case brought to me in my capacity of chairman of the Scottish National party relates to Monklands West. Lenzie Waterside has been casually put into a constituency with which the people feel there is no natural association. Those associations may come in time, but at present the kindest thing that we can say is that they are unnatural.

The duty of the Boundary Commission is to try to equalise votes and achieve some degree of weight between numbers, remoteness and sizes of constituency. But even if perfection is found, and the new constituencies match all the requirements, we shall still be left with the fundamental inequality of the voting system. I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) each represent about 250,000 people on a party political basis. The figure for the Liberals in the United Kingdom was taken at about 360,000 per person elected—

Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)

The hon. Gentleman represents only Dundee, East.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that I represent Dundee, East but—

Mr. McQuarrie

That is all the hon. Gentleman represents.

Mr. Wilson

We all have our party affiliations—

Mr. McQuarrie

The hon. Gentleman represents Dundee, East.

Mr. Wilson

If the hon. Gentleman will contain himself—

Mr. McQuarrie


Mr. Wilson

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman because I prefer him to rise and make his remarks rather than do so from a sedentary position.

Mr. McQuarrie

It is absolute nonsense for the hon. Gentleman to suggest that either he or his right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) represent 250,000 people each. The hon. Gentleman represents the constituency to which he was elected. Other Members who represented the SNP were rejected by the electorate in 1979. The hon. Gentleman represents only Dundee, East. He does not represent 250,000 people, and never will. He will be lucky if he is returned to the House at the next election.

Mr. Wilson

With the approach of the general election, it is the hon. Gentleman who is excited, not me.

I readily accept that I, like other hon. Members, was elected to a particular constituency which I am proud to represent. But, equally, none of us would dispute that we were also elected for political parties. Before the hon. Gentleman gets hot under the collar, may I say that I was not suggesting that I represent a constituency of 250,000 people—only that I represent that many in relation to party weighting and voting. There is no doubt that that number voted SNP, although they may be represented—temporarily, I hope—by representatives of other political parties.

Even if the constituencies were properly adjusted by the Boundary Commission to the satisfaction of everyone, there would still be the problem of the inequitable nature of the voting system. The hon. Member for Inverness passed briefly over that point, but it cannot be swept under the carpet. I am convinced that there will be changes, especially in Scotland, even if the House itself is so old-fashioned and dinosauric as to ignore demands for fairer representation on both an individual constituency basis and a party basis.

9.10 pm
Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

I do not wish to follow in any great detail what was said by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) except to say, with regard to his dispute with the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie), that perhaps some of us feel that the hon. Member for Dundee, East represents only a reactionary wing of his party and not all the views within his party. I am sure that my predecessor would at least agree with me on that, if nothing else.

Instead of following the hon. Member for Dundee, East, I wish to go on from where my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) left off. As the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East rightly said, whenever the Prime Minister favours us with the opportunity of an election, we are all looking forward—I am sure that I speak on behalf of all hon. Members present today—to welcoming my hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove back as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead. I have just seen a frown on the face of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), so there is one hon. Member who will not welcome him back in that capacity, but the hon. Gentleman will not be here to welcome him back anyway.

I tabled an amendment, but I realise why it has not been called. I regret that it has not been called. I regret that something as apparently unimportant as a name, which however is important to the people who live in the area and are concerned about it—it is certainly important to the local authorities in the area which have made representations on this matter—cannot be amended by the House. I wrote to the Secretary of State—I am glad to see him in his place tonight—saying that there was no objection within south Ayrshire to the constituency being called South Ayrshire. I told him that even representatives of the Conservative party wanted it so. I asked him to amend the Boundary Commission's recommendation about the name. Unfortunately, he did not feel able to do so. That is most unfortunate. On such a matter, which offends no one and could please so many, it would have been simple for him to agree.

I agree with much of the work that the Boundary Commission has done on this occasion. I am not one of those who greatly object to what has been done, but it is bureaucracy gone mad when the commission insists—and even then does not do so fully—that the new district boundaries should be adhered to. I shall remind the House briefly of what happened about the new constituency of South Ayrshire, which has had a small piece added to it.

The preliminary proposal was that the constituency would be called Carrick and Doon Valley. Cumnock and Doon Valley district council said according to paragraph 225 of the report that the name suggested is historically inept and geographically inaccurate. That is not the objection. That was not the proper description of the new area of the constituency.

The assistant commissioner, unlike other assistant commissioners, was wise and sensible. He said of the choice of the name of the Carrick and Doon 'Valley constituency: There was no doubt, on the basis of the written and oral submissions, that 'South Ayrshire' is the most straightforward, the most accurate and most acceptable name for the constituency in relation to 'South Ayrshire' … there was support right across the political spectrum, including Mr. George Foulkes, MP. I am not sure whether I am right across the political spectrum Unless the Commission felt it essential to depart altogether from the old shire names, he recommended"— this is the assistant commissioner speaking— retention of the name 'South Ayrshire', whether or not the constituencies to the north were called 'North Ayrshire' and `Central Ayrshire'. He went on to say that if the commission found it impossible to accept that recommendation, the correct title would not be Carrick and Doon Valley but Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, and added that the name would be "pedantic and clumsy". It is pedantic and clumsy. If the recommendations are accepted, when such constituency names are used, the procedure in the House will become more tortuous than at present. People will have to refer to me as hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley. Saying that starts a filibuster in itself. There is a predisposition to go on for hours. Members know that I need no encouragement to do that, as do some other hon. Members.

There are royalist implications in the use of Carrick about which one might not be happy. There are also other aspects. The name was described by the assistant commissioner as "pedantic and clumsy." However, it is ultimately what the commission accepted. Regrettably, the Secretary of State, who represents Ayr and should know a great deal better, refused to alter it. Therefore, the proposed name is Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, instead of South Ayrshire, which was desired by everyone.. The arguments were put forward at the hearing by Cumnock and Doon valley district council extremely weal and the assistant commissioner accepted them.

I do not understand why district names are appropriate.. I do not understand why we cannot use other names. After all, the name "Ayrshire" is still being used. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) will accept that. Ayrshire is still being used for the lieutenancy. There is still a lord lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran. There is also a deputy lieutenant. It is still used for the health board, which is the Ayrshire and Arran health board. It is still used for the chamber of industry, which is the Ayrshire chamber of industry. It is still used by the ordinary people. One of the local newspapers is the Ayrshire Post. People still use it and understand the county of Ayrshire and the constituency of South Ayrshire.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Alexander Fletcher)

They do not understand the Member.

Mr. Foulkes

From time to time they have difficulties in understanding the Member. The hon. Gentleman is right.

If we are to have this clumsy and pedantic name for the South Ayrshire constituency, we should have such a name for all the other constituencies as well. The right hon. Member for Ayr is well satisfied. He will not be called by some newfangled name. He remains the right hon. Member for Ayr. However, that is doubtful. Whoever beats him will inherit the name of that constituency. I had better get that correct.

The name of the constituency of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) ought to be changed, but he will still be called the hon. Member for Dumfries, not the hon. Member for Upper Nithsale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, which is the name that he should have. If one is going to be pedantic and clumsy, why not be consistent and call all the constituencies by such strange names?

I hope that there can be a deathbed repentance by the Secretary of State before he gives up at the House. He should use his power to change the name. There is a strong feeling in the whole constituency that its name should remain South Ayrshire. That would do no one any harm.

I shall refer to the new constituency of Ayr. I neither objected nor argued in favour of the transfer of Kincaidston, Annbank and Mossblown from the present constituency of Ayr to the new constituency, which, regrettably, will be called Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley. If the order is passed, I shall welcome the people of Kincaidston, Annbank and Mossblown to my constituency. I am sure that they will welcome an active local Member of Parliament. That will make a change.

I did not object to the proposals, but the Ayr constituency Labour party did. I shall mention some of its objections to show that not only in making the name of the constituency the same but in other ways it is no harm to be the Secretary of State to whom the commission is reporting.

By adhering completely to district boundaries rather than examining numbers we have a strange imbalance between the new constituencies in Ayshire. The new Ayr constituency is to have 65,500 electors on the basis of the 1982 figures and will be the largest in Scotland. Cunninghame, South, on the other hand, will have only 48,900 electors and will be the sixth smallest constituency on the mainland. There will be a huge imbalance between two neighbouring constituencies. There is no argument, other than the hope and desire of preserving the seat of the Secretary of State for Scotland, for transferring Troon from what will be the Cunninghame, South constituency to Ayr which will be one of the largest constituencies in Scotland. It is significant that it is the Secretary of State who has been so favoured.

I can understand why the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), sits in the House with a satisfied smile these days, but half way through the Boundary Commission's deliberations he did not look quite so rosy.

I should like to say a little about what hon. Members who represent English constituencies, especially the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes), said yesterday. The constant bickering of Conservative Members of Parliament about the representation of Scotland in this united Parliament is a serious matter. We ought to remind them that this Parliament represents a union of the two Parliaments of England and Scotland. There would be serious constitutional implications if they undermined the constitutional position that was agreed at the Union.

I shall finish as I started. I am proud to follow a great tradition as Member of Parliament for the South Ayrshire constituency. I only hope that there is some way in which to preserve that name. It will be a great sadness for all the people of South Ayrshire if we are forced to get that huge mouthful of a constituency out—Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley.

9.22 pm
Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

I beg to move the amendment that stands in my name on the Order Paper. It is a good amendment—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that his amendment has not been selected.

Mr. Canavan

I thought that you would say that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Nevertheless, it is important to put it on record—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot move it as it has not been selected.

Mr. Canavan

I thought that you would say that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it is important to put it on the record so that people outside can see the lack of parliamentary democracy in here whereby hon. Members can table amendments but do not get the opportunity to vote on them. That is not an indictment of the Chair.

I am grateful for the opportunity to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am the only hon. Member in Britain whose constituency is being smashed into seven pieces. I am in difficult circumstances in that none of those seven resulting constituencies consists of a majority of my existing constituency.

I realise that that means that whatever happens to me, I shall lose the majority of the people whom I now represent. I have heard that there are some whispers and rumours among the Tory establishment of west Stirlingshire to the extent, I believe, that some of them colloquially refer to this mad scheme as the Dennis Canavan job release scheme. I may yet disappoint them all by returning here in some other reincarnation. [HON. MEMBERS: "The House of Lords".] That remains to be seen.

The motivation behind my remarks tonight is not self-preservation, but, much more important, the preservation of communities and community links that have existed for many years and that are now being ripped asunder by this senseless order. I accept that some reorganisation of my constituency, and probably most constituencies, was inevitable following the fundamental reorganisation of local government a decade ago. I complain not about the principle of reorganisation but about the way in which it has been carried out. I shall refer specifically to what happened in central region.

When the initial proposals were produced, most parties, with the exception of the Conservative party, were broadly in favour of them. The Labour party and the SNP were reasonably happy with them, and the Liberal party and the SDP, such as they exist, seemed to be reasonably happy—

Mr. McQuarrie

Where are they?

Mr. Canavan

All the local authorities favoured the original proposals. Central region, the three districts of Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannan, and all the Members of Parliament who represent central region and who expressed an opinion were broadly in favour. I do not recall the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) expressing an opinion on the matter, but he spends more time in his castle in Fife than in central region, which perhaps explains his silence on that matter and on many others affecting the region.

There was a fair degree of logic behind the original proposals, because central region, with a total electorate of just more than 200,000, could be divided tidily into four parliamentary constituencies with an average electorate of about 50,000, which is about the Scottish quota. Falkirk district could be divided tidily into two parliamentary constituencies of roughly equal size. The Boundary Commission was left with a problem, because Stirling district was too big to be a constituency in its own right and Clackmannan was too small. It seemed logical to take some people from Stirling and to move them to Clackmannan to achieve reasonable parity of numbers. The commission concluded that it would transfer two electoral divisions from Stirling district to Clackmannan district.

Again fairly logically, looking at a map, any reasonable person would have thought that the electoral division that should have been transferred was the only one that is contiguous by land with Clackmannan district—electoral division 15, which includes the village of Blairlogie—a Hillfoots village—the university of Stirling, which is at the edge of Hillfoots, and the town of Bridge of Allan. The next but one electoral division that could have been added to Clackmannan was Doune and Dunblane. That seemed to be fairly logical, and most people—with the exception of a Tory clique—were reasonably happy. So ends scene one of my tale.

In scene two, enter Sheriff Taylor. Due to a clamour from the Tory clique out of all proportion to the number of people whom they represent, the Boundary Commission decided to hold a public inquiry. However, the Secretary of State for Scotland—not the Boundary Commission—appointed a reporter to the inquiry. In this case the Secretary of State lives in the area and was, therefore, more susceptible to local pressures than he would normally be. He decided to appoint as reporter to the public inquiry Sheriff Principal Taylor, who is a former chairman of the central and southern region of the Scottish Conservative association and who held that position until his appointment as a sheriff about a decade ago. He also stood for Parliament three times, and failed three times to get here, so it seems that he is now trying to cook the boundaries so that one of his pals can come here.

I raised this matter about a year ago with the then Leader of the House, who is now the Foreign Secretary, and asked him about the credentials of this man Taylor. The Leader of the House replied: The person referred to in the early-day motions was a candidate in the 1950s and 1960s and accordingly considered that he could not properly act as an assistant commissioner in relation to the Tayside region. In other words, it seems that there was some communication between Sheriff Taylor and the Boundary Commission whereby Sheriff Taylor admitted that because of his party political history he should not be a reporter within the Tayside region. He specified the Tayside region because he had been a candidate in Dundee, which lies within that region.

The Leader of the House continued: The objections were not considered to apply to any inquiry relating to Central and Fife regions and the Secretary of State agreed to his appointment for those regions."—[Official Report, 25 February 1982; Vol. 18, c. 991.] I do not believe that where a man stood as a candidate is particularly relevant. When judging his partiality it is relevant to consider under which banner he stood. I do not believe that the geographical location of Sheriff Taylor' s candidature is as important as the fact that he stood as a party political candidate and was one of the leading officials of the Scottish Conservative party right up until his appointment as sheriff not all that long ago.

I maintain that such people should not be allowed to be reporters to public inquiries of this nature. He was appointed an assistant commissioner. They are supposed to be independent and above party politics. I do not believe that there is anyone who is 100 per cent. impartial about anything. We should at least try to minimise partiality. If someone has stood three times as a parliamentary candidate for one political party, there is no need TO guess where his political allegiance lies.

I hope that when we return to office after the next general election we shall bring in amending legislation to disqualify such characters from being in charge of public inquiries designed to carve up constituency boundaries.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is it the hon. Gentleman's considered view that he would not be an appropriate person to sit on a public inquiry of any kind?

Mr. Canavan

Not of this particular type, which draws up constituency boundaries which can have an effect on not just the quality but the political complexion of the representative that the people will have. No one who has been a Member of the House or has stood for election to the House should conduct such a public inquiry. No such person could be impartial.

Bearing in mind Sheriff Taylor's background, he not surprisingly gave the Tories everything they wanted, including the creation of a new seat that is unique in certain respects. The new Clackmannan seat is the only seat in Scotland—the Boundary Commission admits this, possibly because I pointed it out—which consists of one entire local authority district plus bits of two others. It consists of Clackmannan district plus a bit of Stirling district and a bit of Falkirk district. According to the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949, as amended, paragraph 4 of schedule 2 states clearly that the Boundary Commission must have regard, wherever practicable, to local government area boundaries. Surely that means that there should be an attempt to minimise the crossing of local government boundaries as long as reasonable parity of numbers can be obtained by not crossing them.

Anyone who has read the report and compared the revised recommendations with the initial recommendations will see that there is not much difference between the recommendations in terms of parity of numbers. Parity of numbers could have been achieved by crossing only one district boundary instead of crossing two district boundaries, as the commission has done in its revised proposals.

The new constituency of Clackmannan is, as far as I can see looking at the map, the only mainland constituency in Scotland that is divided by a major waterway, the river Forth, in such a way that constituents in the southern part of the constituency, in order to cross to the northern part of the constituency, will have to go through another constituency by crossing the river Forth either upstream or downstream. They will have to cross through another constituency because they will have to go into Stirling to cross the river or into Kincardine to cross the river.

Mr. Bill Walker

The same happens in Perth and Kinross where the river Tay crosses the constituency.

Mr. Canavan

There is a bridge across the Tay by which constituents can cross from one part of the constituency to the other. I hope that the hon. Member will have another look at the map.

In other words, there is no direct transport by land from one part of the Clackmannan constituency to another. It is little wonder that there was an outcry from many people because of the revised recommendations. All the local authorities sent in objections. Community councils and representatives of the villages of Plean, Cowie, Throsk and Fallin wrote in. I have yet to find any constituent in any of the four villages in favour of the revised proposals. They objected and sent in petitions.

The links of these four villages with the Stirling area are far longer and stronger than those of the people in Doune and Dunblane who, until recently, were in the county of Perth for local government purposes and still are in Perthshire for parliamentary representation purposes. Despite all these representations, unfortunately, the commission stuck to its guns and even refused to call a second public inquiry, despite many demands, on the ground that the second proposals were fundamentally different from the original proposals.

I was one of the objectors, along with my hon. Friends the Members for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) and Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill). We wrote supporting the original proposals, but we got word back saying that the commission was sorry but it was sticking to the revised proposals and that was that. I wrote back pointing out that it had given no reasons why it was accepting the revised proposals in favour of the original proposals. I received a letter in return from the secretary of the Boundary Commission saying: The Commission have asked me to say that they do not consider it appropriate to explain at this stage the reasons for their decision which will be given in their final report to the Secretary of State. I have had a look at the report and I am still looking in vain for any reasons. The only attempt to state a reason in the report is that the commission says it agrees with Sheriff Taylor—"Sheriff Taylor says this and we agree with him." The commission could not have looked closely at what Sheriff Taylor said because his statement is full of inaccuracies and downright lies, and stuff that has misled many people and possibly the House. His findings are based on prejudice or ignorance, or a combination of both. I can give one or two illustrations. Sheriff Taylor said in his statement: Plean, Cowie, Throsk and Lethan were former mining communities and they have something in common with communities in Clackmannan that were formerly mining communities. He then goes on to say that they should therefore be included in Clackmannan. The village of Throsk is not and never has been a mining community. It was built about the time of the first world war to house Admiralty workers at the Admiralty depot at Bandeath. Yet Sheriff Taylor is allowed to make that completely false and unsubstantiated statement. If we look at the mining links of the people on the south side of the river in these villages, such as Plean, Cowie and Fallin, their links are more with other mining communities on the south of the Forth such as Bannockburn, Whins of Milton, St. Ninians and part of Stirling, where there are miners' welfare institutes and so on. If we just look at the one pit in that area on the south side of the river Forth, the Polmoise colliery, almost 90 per cent. of the work force come from the south side of the river. Yet the reporter made a decision to transfer the people to the other side of the river on the ground that they were miners. I have never heard anything so ridiculous.

Talking about electoral divisions 13 and 29, which are the villages of Fallin, Plean, Throsk, Cowie, Airth, Letham, and so on, Sheriff Taylor then says: They include industrial communities and former or declining mining areas, whereas electoral division 16"— that is, Doune and Dunblane— is rural with a country town and villages and electoral division 15"— that is, Bridge of Allan and the university— consists of suburban and commuter communities in a rural background. He must be blind to some of the important industrial projects in that area because one of the largest industrial employers in that area and in my constituency is United Glass, employing over 600 workers at Bridge of Allan, in electoral division 15, and a similar number not far along the road in Clackmannan in the town of Alloa. This indicates a very important industrial link between electoral division 15 and Clackmannan, which the sheriff completely ignored and which the Boundary Commission failed to comment on, despite the fact that I pointed it out in my submission.

Then we come to the case of Stirling university. Some people from Stirling university were reported to have given evidence at the public inquiry saying that they wanted to be in the same constituency as the town of Stirling. Certainly the reporter, Sheriff Taylor, came to that conclusion when he said that he thought it would be appropriate that the interests of the student electorate and of the University should be represented by the same Member of Parliament as the town of Stirling". Since its inception the university has never been in the same constituency as the town of Stirling. It is in the constituency of West Stirlingshire, my constituency, and I have never heard people in the university complain about lack of representation in Parliament just because they do not have the same Member of Parliament as the town of Stirling — that is, my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth, who has also worked hard on behalf of the university. The university has a good working relationship with all three local Members of Parliament.

The sheriff, however, listened to all this nonsense about the phoney advantages of being in the same constituency as Stirling town. He also listened to the evidence of a temporary honorary president of the council of the students association, who happens also to be an active member of the Tory party. She was not a student at Stirling university. She was one of those fly-by-night carpet-baggers who came up from the south of England to be honorary president for a year at the university. She gave evidence at the public inquiry, and I have no doubt that the local Tory establishment had a word in her lug and told her to speak on behalf of the students at the public inquiry. She has never been seen since. She has never lifted a finger to help the students at Stirling university. I can vouch for the fact that the existing and the immediate past elected presidents of the council of the students association, speaking on behalf of the whole student body, feel that it does not matter at all whether or not they are in the same constituency as Stirling town. All that was conveniently ignored.

Has anyone ever heard such a stupid reason as the last one given by the sheriff? He says that electoral division 29 is at present linked with Clackmannan and therefore it would be as well to keep it there. Good heavens, I could equally argue that electoral division 13 is at present linked with Bannockburn, Cambusbarron, Fallin and Plean and the rest of West Stirlingshire and therefore it would be as well keeping it there. One's conclusion depends upon one's starting point. For such a piece of evidence to come from a judge is an absolute disgrace. One begins to wonder about the calibre of people sitting on judicial benches, public inquiries and so on when they come out with such unsubstantiated nonsense in their reports.

The Secretary of State knows that I wrote to him on 16 February of this year to ask him to receive a delegation of the villagers of Cowie, Fallin, Plean and Throsk so that he could at least give some last-minute consideration to their pleas. I thought that as the Secretary of State was a reasonable man, he would at least have received and listened to such a delegation. On Monday of this week I received a reply from the right hon. Gentleman. He did not even say that he was sorry; he just said, "No." He said that it was too late, because the order had been tabled. Let me remind him that the order was tabled on 24 February and I wrote to him on 16 February. Even if he were gallivanting in the United States, at least one of his underlings, a junior Minister, could have received the delegation before the order was tabled and debated on the Floor of the House. At that stage, the Secretary of State was the only man who could come forward with possible amendments. I do not think that his refusal to meet the delegation arose from the lack of time but because he was incapable of defending the recommendations, which are absolutely divisive and unnecessarily disruptive.

Before I finish, I want to remind the Secretary of State for Scotland of what he said when he was in opposition on 15 March 1978 on the Floor of the House in favour of an amendment of mine. Ironically, that amendment too was not called, but it was nevertheless referred to in the debate on the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, and it referred to the work of the local government Boundary Commission. The right hon. Gentleman said to me: I congratulate the hon. Member because his amendment would have met the point that I seek to make. He went on to mention a case in his constituency and said: It concerns the proposal to transfer the Kincaidstone housing scheme from the Alloway electoral division in Ayr to another electoral division—the Prestwick and Coyle Bank electoral division. Anyone who knows the area will know that there is no community of interest whatever between the Kincaidstone housing scheme and the Prestwick area, which is at the apposite end of the conurbation and has no natural links with it. The two would make a most unhomogeneous local government area. The right hon. Gentleman also knows well the area that I am talking about in my constituency, because he lives not very far away. Cart he think of anything more unhomogeneous than lumping Fallin, Pican, Throsk and Cowie with Clackmannan across the river? Whatever happened in his constituency four or five years ago, at least there was not a big unbridged river dividing one part of his electorate from the other.

The right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) went on to say: Here is an ideal opportunity, in this schedule, to make a minor amendment on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire … We ought to make clear to the Boundary Commission that of course it must still take numbers into account, but that it must also take into account the fact that: where community of interest is being broken up it has the right—indeed, the duty—on some occasions to make numbers play a less dominant role, and to recognise the interests of ordinary people in their areas. I hope very much that the Minister will consider whether anything can be done at this stage along those lines. Parity of numbers between the parliamentary constituencies in the central region could have been reasonably well achieved without breaking the community links to which I have referred.

Perhaps I can quote a final sentence from the Secretary of State's speech, one of the best speeches he has ever given: The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire has been concerned with another case which I happen to know of myself because it is near my own home".—[Official Report, 15 March 1978; Vol. 946, c. 505–7.] He remembers it all right because it concerned his own village of Gargunnoch. I stuck up for the people of Gargunnoch to try to ensure that they got a fair deal from the Boundary Commission at that time. I stuck up for my constituent, the Secretary of State himself, to try to see that he got a fair deal from the Boundary Commission. I supported him, yet now he is failing to support me and, what is worse, he is selling the people of Cowie, Fallin, Plean and Throsk if not down the river then across it. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

I am forced to conclude that these proposals are a blanket act of gerrymandering on the part of he Tory Establishment in a desperate effort to create a winnable seat for their party. But it has not won yet. Let there be no mistake about this. As far as the new Stirling seat is concerned, many of the electorate in that constituency will see through all these tactics and will vote accordingly, to try to return a Labour Member of Parliament at the next general election.

The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) referred earlier to the possibility of locking all the party officials into a hotel room for a few days and ending up with reasonable proposals, possibly even more reasonable than those of the Boundary Commission. When I look at these proposals for the central region I begin to suspect that they have emerged from a Tory cocktail party at Leckie house, the ancestral home of the Secretary of State for Scotland, when all the local Tories nobbled him and said, "Look, George, what about trying to give us a seat?" The Secretary of State has apparently succumbed to the temptation. He ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself because these proposals are a disgrace to British parliamentary democracy and bring our parliamentary system into disrepute. If he had any decency left in him he ought to resign. I call on all fair-minded Members to vote with me in the Lobby against these unfair proposals which are disrupting communities not just in the central region but also in many other parts of Scotland.

9.52 pm
Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)

It is somewhat difficult to follow the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan). Once he has finished his job release scheme I recommend that he starts editing Comic Cuts, because that is what he has been giving us tonight.

The hon. Gentleman's character assassination of Sheriff Principal Taylor was one of the most disgusting things that we have heard in this Parliament. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) said, Sheriff Principal Taylor is a member of the judiciary and, once appointed to that position, removes himself from any political affiliation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South also mentioned, Lord Wheatley was a Labour Member of this House and took part in Boundary Commission changes and therefore—

Mr. Harry Ewing


Mr. McQuarrie

Then I withdraw that, but the noble Lord was at least in the House and had no political affiliation when dealing with Boundary Commission proposals.

However, not only did the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire endeavour to assassinate the character of Sheriff Principal Taylor by suggesting that it was Tory gerrymandering that made that seat in West Stirlingshire, but he endeavoured—fortunately quite unsuccessfully, but as part of his Comic Cuts act—to assassinate the character of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who had no part in the decisions on these alterations.

I hope that when the House divides on this order it will bear in mind the comments made by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire about his own constituency. Indeed, it may have been fear of losing that constituency that incited him to speak as he did about the sheriff principal who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South said, unfortunately has no opportunity to retaliate. Whether he can write in The Scotsman or the Glasgow Herald is not important. He cannot stand up here as we can and give chapter and verse for what he would like to say about the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire.

The Boundary Commission's proposals were suggested in 1978 when growth in the Grampian region was not expected. That region has grown and will continue to grow so that by the next general election, not to mention the following one, it will have thrown the Boundary Commission's numbers game completely out of proportion. My constituency of Aberdeenshire, East was nobly represented for 34 years by Lord Boothby. Unfortunately, that constituency name will disappear into Banff and Buchan, and the ancient county of Banff will disappear as a constituentcy, with the loss of a Member of Parliament.

In its deliberations the Boundary Commission should have taken account of the growth of some areas. It seems wrong to take the 1978 figures as the basis for the next general election when it was already obvious that there would be substantial growth in areas such as the Grampian region. I hope that on the next occasion the commission will be directed to take cognisance of possible growth in areas where the likelihood of such growth is apparent.

In many respects, I welcome the commission's decisions. I especially welcome the fact that a Tory Member will represent the constituency of West Stirlingshire rather than the present incumbent.

Mr. Canavan

There will be no such constituency.

Mr. McQuarrie

A Tory Member would represent that area far better than the hon. Gentleman.

In conclusion, I hope that the Minister can assure us that in future the commission will have to take cognisance of possible growth in areas such as the Grampian region, so that we do not again lose not only a Member of Parliament but a whole constituency when the numbers have in fact increased rather than decreased.

9.57 pm
Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)

The debate has been as much about the lessons to be learnt for the future from the Boundary Commission's work in the past three or four years as about the dissatisfaction of some hon. Members at the way in which the commission reached the decisions now before us.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) said that we had waited a long time for the report. As the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) pointed out, the Boundary Commission was set up in 1978. I well recall the Labour party conference at Perth in 1980, just after the 1979 general election. My great and good friend Lord Ross of Marnock was speculating as to why he was being offered so many drinks and invited to so many meals by so many people at that conference. I had to explain that a great many of them thought that he was the deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission rather than the honourable Lord Ross, high court judge and former dean of the faculty. Indeed, we tried to cook up a scheme to keep up the pretence for a number of years so that my noble friend might continue to receive the kindness so long denied to him.

We have waited for the report for some time. Some lessons have to be learnt and applied to the next Boundary Commission, whenever that may sit. To correct the impression given by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East—I am sure the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South would want me to do this—Lord Wheatley has never at any time been associated with Boundary Commission work. The point the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South was making was that if there had been provision in the Boundary Commission procedure to go to the Court of Session, in that situation Lord Wheatley might have been involved in Boundary Commission work. There is no provision for the matter to go the Court of Session, and therefore there was no risk involved. For the sake of the record it is important to point out that Lord Wheatley has never at any time been involved in Boundary Commission work.

One of the problems has been that the Boundary Commission sought to fit the parliamentary constituencies into the local government set-up. No doubt we would all agree that to some extent that was the wrong way to proceed. I am not apportioning blame to anyone but simply making an observation that I hope will be noted when the next Boundary Commission sits. It is easy to be wise after the event.

When local government was reorganised in 1973 and the new local government boundaries and district and regional councils were established, it was not envisaged that a future parliamentary Boundary Commission would seek to fit into the local government set-up the parliamentary boundaries. If a mistake has been made, that is it.

There is an inherent weakness in the procedure of the Boundary Commission because it does not go to public inquiries to argue the case for its original proposals. In future, when a Boundary Commission sits, if there is a public inquiry to consider objections to its proposals, it should be under an obligation to argue the case for those proposals at the inquiry. What happened was that proposals were put forward by the Boundary Commission, public inquiries were held to consider objections, the report came back from the reporter and the Boundary Commission then considered that report and decided whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that the reporter's findings should be accepted.

Whatever may be said by Conservative Members, my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) made strong and relevant points about what happened at the central region inquiry. There was dissatisfaction about the outcome of that inquiry. The proper procedure would have been for a second public inquiry to he held because the first one produced proposals so radically different from the original proposals of the Boundary Commission that it is inconceivable that the commission could have accepted the amended proposals as being preferable to its original proposals. It is completely unsatisfactory that the Boundary Commission should not be under an obligation to attend a public inquiry and argue the case for its proposals. If there is one lesson we must learn from what has happened over the last three years it is that a Boundary Commission should defend its original proposals at any public inquiry that is held.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire made the relevant point that when, in the case of Stirling university, the university court gave evidence, it argued that the university should be represented by the same Member of Parliament as he who represented the town of Stirling. Never at any time since 1968, when the university was built, has it been represented by the same Member who represented the town. The late Willie Baxter, who used to represent the university with great effect, was succeeded by my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire, who continued to represent it with great effect. No one could argue that the university was at a disadvantage because it was not represented by the same Member of Parliament as represented the town.

The Boundary Commission should have been at the inquiry to argue that case. I do not want to join in the criticism of Sheriff Principal Taylor, or to make allegations of gerrymandering, but it is difficult to convince the public that the outcome of the inquiry was not wrong. The new Stirling seat may possibly be a Conservative seat, but it is as well to remember that when the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) thought that his constituency would be dicey and that he might not win it, he was fishing around in Stirling to see if there was any possibility of his becoming the Conservative candidate there. So it is difficult to avoid the feeling that something was going on. However, I am content to leave the matter there.

We are now entering on to a new era in Scottish politics. Many of the constituencies that have been traditional over the years will disappear altogether. Many of us regret that we shall lose parts of areas that we have represented for a number of years. In my own case, it will be the town of Stirling and two thirds of Falkirk, which I have represented for the past 12 years. It is always a wrench when we have to leave friends that we have known for a number of years. However, we must look to the future positively, and do our best to make sure that the constituencies are operable, and I am quite certain that whoever represents them will represent them well.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) talked about the names of constituencies. This is an issue on which local people should be consulted. It is incredible that Sheriff Principal Taylor should be prepared to accept the radical alterations to the proposals for the Central region, and yet when a simple proposal was put by my constituency Labour party, that, to avoid confusion, we should not have Falkirk, East and Falkirk, West, but have instead Falkirk, West and a Grangemouth constituency, he decided that it was far too radical. That simple proposition was rejected out of hand, because there happens to be one electoral division—one only—from the town of Falkirk in Falkirk, East, and he argued that that was sufficient to justify the naming of the constituency as Falkirk, East.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove said, the naming of constituencies is not a controversial matter, and the wishes of local people should be accepted. Perhaps we would then get more attractive names for constituencies, instead of the rather stereotyped names that have been produced by the Boundary Commission. I join my right hon. Friend in advising my hon. Friends not to vote against this order tonight. Some of my colleagues may take a different view, but I hope that these constituencies will work well in the future, and I look forward with interest to the months that lie ahead.

10.8 pm

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allan Stewart)

I have listened with great care to what all hon. Members have said tonight, both the general and particular points. They have spoken with knowledge and sincerity, particularly about the loss of historic links and historic constituencies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) mentioned the loss of upper Nithsdale. The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnson) referred to the difficulties of distance. My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) spoke with great knowledge of North Tayside, as did the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) referred to the proud old county of Berwickshire, in which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) has an interest.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) referred to communities and referred to the concern about the name of the new constituency. That theme was reflected in the contributions of the hon. Members for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) and for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing).

The relationship between rules 4 and 5 and the timing of reasons given for provisional recommendations will be matters for Parliament to decide before the next general review by the Boundary Commission. I am not as convinced as the hon. Member for Inverness about the merits of decisions on boundaries being made in smoke-filled rooms full of party professionals.

Several hon. Members referred to the change in the commission's original intention of having 71 seats for Scotland to having 72. That was explained fully by the hon. Member for Kelvingrove. I confirm to my hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh, South and for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) and to the hon. Member for Dundee, East—[Interruption.]

Mr. Foulkes

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I can hardly hear the Minister because of the noise emanating from the English Fascist caucus in the corner. Will they leave the Chamber if they wish to talk among themselves?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his help.

Mr. Stewart

I am concerned with population trends. I confirm to my hon. Friends that population changes were considered by the commission in several respects.

References were made to Sheriff Principal Taylor. Hon. Members must not fall into the trap of saying that past political service precludes impartiality. That point was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire as well as by the hon. Member for Inverness. The House understands the feelings of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) over his constituency being divided into seven parts. He is a most assiduous constituency Member, as my right hon. and hon. Friends who have to receive his representations will be the first to agree.

The hon. Gentleman accused Sheriff Principal Taylor of political bias. I should tell the hon. Gentleman that in the other inquiry that he conducted for the Fife region he recommended acceptance of the commission's scheme for five seats instead of four as at present, against opposition from all the Conservative associations in Fife.

The final decision is made by the commission, one member of which was appointed by the Lord President and two by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). Hon Members have made many points with sincerity and knowledge. Given the independence and impartiality of the boundary commission, the right course is for the House to approve the recommendations without modification.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 267, Noes 9.

Division No. 83] [10 pm
Adley, Robert Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Aitken, Jonathan Banks, Robert
Alexander, Richard Bendall, Vivian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Benyon, Thomas (A'don)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Berry, Hon Anthony
Ancram, Michael Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Tom Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Aspinwall, Jack Blackburn, John
Atkins, Robert(Preston N) Blaker, Peter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th.E) Body, Richard
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone,) Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Bowden, Andrew Heddle, John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Braine, Sir Bernard Hicks, Robert
Bright, Graham Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Brinton, Tim Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Brooke, Hon Peter Hooson, Tom
Brotherton, Michael Hordern, Peter
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Browne, John (Winchester) Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Bryan, Sir Paul Hunt, David (Wirral)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Buck, Antony Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Burden, Sir Frederick Irvine, RtHon Bryant Godman
Butcher, John Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Butler, Hon Adam Jessel, Toby
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Kimball, Sir Marcus
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Kitson, Sir Timothy
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Knight, Mrs Jill
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Knox, David
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lamont, Norman
Clegg, Sir Walter Lang, Ian
Cockeram, Eric Langford-Holt, Sir John
Cope, John Latham, Michael
Cormack, Patrick Lawrence, Ivan
Corrie, John Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Costain, Sir Albert Lee, John
Cranborne, Viscount Le Marchant, Spencer
Crouch, David Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dickens, Geoffrey Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Dorrell, Stephen Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Dover, Denshore Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Loveridge, John
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Luce, Richard
Durant, Tony Lyell, Nicholas
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John McCrindle, Robert
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Macfarlane, Neil
Eggar, Tim MacGregor, John
Elliott, Sir William Mac Kay, John (Argyll)
Emery, Sir Peter Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fairgrieve, Sir Russell McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fell, Sir Anthony McQuarrie, Albert
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Madel, David
Fisher, Sir Nigel Major, John
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Marland, Paul
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Marlow, Antony
Fookes, Miss Janet Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Forman, Nigel Marten, Rt Hon Neil
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Mates, Michael
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Mawby, Ray
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gardner, Sir Edward Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mayhew, Patrick
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Mellor, David
Glyn, Dr Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony
Goodhew, Sir Victor Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Goodlad, Alastair Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Gower, Sir Raymond Miscampbell, Norman
Gray, Rt Hon Hamish Monro, Sir Hector
Grieve, Percy Montgomery, Fergus
Griffiths, E.(B'ySt. Edm'ds) Moore, John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Grylls, Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Gummer, John Selwyn Murphy, Christopher
Hamilton, Hon A. Neale, Gerrard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Needham, Richard
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hannam,John Neubert, Michael
Haselhurst, Alan Newton, Tony
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Normanton, Tom
Hawkins, Sir Paul Onslow, Cranley
Hawksley, Warren Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hayhoe, Barney Osborn, John
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Stanbrook, Ivor
Parris, Matthew Stanley, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Steen, Anthony
Patten, John (Oxford) Stevens, Martin
Pawsey, James Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Percival, Sir Ian Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Peyton, Rt Hon John Stokes, John
Pink, R. Bonner Stradling Thomas, J.
Pollock, Alexander. Tapsell, Peter
Porter, Barry Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Temple-Morris, Peter
Prior, Rt Hon James Thompson, Donald
Proctor, K. Harvey Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Rathbone, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Renton, Tim Trippier, David
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Viggers, Peter
Rifkind, Malcolm Waddington, David
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Wakeham, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Waldegrave, Hon William
Rossi, Hugh Walker, B. (Perth)
Rost, Peter Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Royle, Sir Anthony Wall, Sir Patrick
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R. Waller, Gary
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Walters, Dennis
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Ward, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Watson, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen
Shelton, William (Streatham) Wheeler, John
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Shersby, Michael Whitney, Raymond
Sims, Roger Wickenden, Keith
Skeet, T. H. H. Wilkinson, John
Smith, Sir Dudley Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wolfson, Mark
Speed, Keith Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spence, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Tellers for the Ayes:
Sproat, Iain Mr. Carol Mather and
Squire, Robin Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Stainton, Keith
Cryer, Bob Steel, Rt Hon David
Dixon, Donald Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Howells, Geraint Tellers for the Noes:
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Mr. Russell Johnston and
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Mr. Denis Canavan.
Skinner, Dennis

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1983, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.