HC Deb 20 May 1998 vol 312 c943
7. Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)

What representations he has received regarding the number of hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies. [41419]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ron Davies)

Fewer than a dozen.

Mr. Robathan

Given that the Government are determined to foist on Wales an assembly which only one in four of the people wanted, will the Secretary of State take action to ensure that the over-representation of Wales in this House is reduced? He knows that there are 40 Welsh Members whereas according to English criteria there should be 32. Will he take action to reduce that over-representation?

Mr. Davies

No, I will not. The basis of the representation of Welsh constituencies in the House was determined in 1944 by a Speaker's Commission. There are no proposals to change that. When we debated the Government of Wales Bill, there were no such proposals from the hon. Gentleman or from the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram). The assembly that we propose, and for which the people of Wales voted on 18 September, does not have any legislative function: accordingly, there is no case to be made for the number of Welsh Members of Parliament to be reduced.

Mr. Huw Edwards (Monmouth)

Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that, in 70 years, there have been only seven women Members of Parliament from Wales? Will he join me in congratulating the Wales Labour party, which last Saturday decided to introduce a system of twinning by constituencies to ensure that there is fair representation of women and men in the Welsh assembly?

Mr. Davies

I am anxious to ensure that the Welsh assembly is representative of the whole of our society in Wales. It is therefore important that we ensure that women are properly represented. Positive discrimination, as my hon. Friend knows, is a difficult matter. My party resolved on Saturday to adopt the policy of twinning, which now has my whole-hearted support. I look forward to my colleagues in the Labour party in Wales working vigorously to implement that policy so that we have fair representation in the assembly.

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