HC Deb 19 May 2003 vol 405 c684
26. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

What plans the Commission has to discuss with the boundary commissions the population sizes of parliamentary constituencies. [113822]

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport)

None, because, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the commission has no responsibility for the matter at present. Section 16 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 provides for the transfer of the boundary commissions' functions to the commission, but those provisions have not yet been implemented.

Andrew Mackinlay

The commission will eventually have this power, though. We should look forward 10 years. Is it not about time that—in the review that follows what is now being enacted—we did away with the disproportionate effect that the geographical criterion has on our constituency boundaries? Surely there should be just one commission for the United Kingdom, rather than four for the four nations. How can we justify the existence of constituencies with 100,000 voters along with others with only 21,000 or 33,000? Surely everyone's vote should be of equal value in the ballot box. We really should not have the disparities that are caused by some spurious geographical consideration. If a person represents a large area, he should be given more sledge teams and dogs.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could apply for an Adjournment debate.

Mr. Viggers

As I have already explained, the Electoral Commission currently has no responsibility in this field, but that did not prevent the hon. Gentleman from making his point forcefully in his usual way.

Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton)

On the population of constituencies, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the identification of constituency boundaries is most important, so that the electorate can identify with certain boundaries and therefore take a greater interest in the activity of the constituency in question? Does he therefore accept that the Boundary Commission should take greater cognisance of constituency boundaries when reviewing constituencies?

Mr. Viggers

The hon. Gentleman has expressed his point of view on this issue before, and I know that we all very much value the cohesion of the areas that we represent.