HC Deb 05 May 1993 vol 224 cc183-4
12. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on boundary reviews for both Westminster and European elections in relation to Scotland.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Under section 2(2) of the Boundary Commissions Act 1992, the Boundary Commission for Scotland has a statutory duty to complete its fourth general review of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland by 31 December 1994. The commission will undertake a review of European parliamentary constituency boundaries in Scotland immediately thereafter.

Mr. Bruce

Does my hon. Friend agree with me that one of the strengths of the Union is the equitable way in which it should treat all its citizens? On the basis that very large numbers of Scots have now migrated to their colony of England and are much involved in the government of that nation, why should those Scots be disfranchised because their vote is worth less in England than it is in Scotland? Will the Scottish Office please give instructions to the boundary commission that the next time the boundaries are reviewed it should work on the average constituency size for the whole of the United Kingdom?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The general answer to my hon. Friend is that the Scottish electoral quota takes account of Scotland's status as a small nation of large, sparsely populated and inaccessible areas. I. have good news for him in one respect. Since 1918, the number of Scots constituencies has increased by one, which is less than 2 per cent., whereas since 1948 the number of English seats has increased by 18–3.4 per cent.—and in Wales by two—5.3 per cent. I suggest to my hon. Friend that the changes in population since 1918, when the present arrangements were set up, are broadly reflected in changes in representation in the House. In other words, if England's population is swelling, England may have a case for more Members of Parliament, but there is no need to alter the number of Scots.

Mr. Ernie Ross

More seriously, will the Minister ensure, first, that the Boundary Commission for Scotland has sufficient funds to carry out the important task on which it is presently engaged and, secondly, that a specific household survey is carried out by electoral registration officers throughout Scotland to ensure that the registers are up to date?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Yes, I will make every effort to ensure that both the requests of the hon. Member are acted upon.