HC Deb 24 May 2004 vol 421 cc1303-4
25. Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con)

If he will ask the commission to take steps to ensure that as part of the current boundary review process, all parliamentary constituencies are as near to 70,000 constituents as possible. [174916]

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport) (Con)

The Electoral Commission does not have any responsibility for the process of reviewing parliamentary constituency boundaries. Section 16 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 provides for the function to be transferred from the respective boundary commissions to the Electoral Commission, but this provision has not yet been implemented.

Mr. Steen

In view of the statutory duty of the boundary commission to ensure that all parliamentary constituencies are as near to 70,000 people as possible, can my hon. Friend explain how the playing field has become totally lopsided, and why 48 per cent. of parliamentary seats are either below 65,000 people or above 75,000? Is this a matter that he could take up with the boundary commission? Does he think that it is a coincidence that 43 per cent. of all the seats with fewer than 65,000 people are held by Labour incumbents?

Mr. Viggers

The facts that my hon. Friend reports are interesting, but I have to say on behalf of the Electoral Commission that it currently has no responsibility in that area.