asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made with regard to the recommendations of Mr. Speaker's Conference concerning two-member constituencies; and when he anticipates that action will be taken in the Parliamentary division of Brighton.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he proposes to introduce legislation to proceed with the re-distribution of seats at an early date as recommended by Mr. Speaker's Conference.
:As announced on Tuesday by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, it is intended tomorrow to move approval of a draft Order, fixing 15th October next as the date from which the machinery for the first general re-distribution of seats shall operate, in accordance with the House of Commons (Re-distribution of Seats) Act, 1944. This Act provides that when the first general re-distribution of seats takes place the Boundary Commission shall abolish double-member constituencies coming under the Act in any case where a local inquiry does not reveal particular circumstances justifying the retention of the double-member seat.
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain, for the benefit of those Members who were not here in the last Parliament, that this provision relates only to those parts of the Speaker's Conference recommendation which referred to double-member seats and certain small seats, and does not involve a general re-distribution of the seats of the country?
I would not like to be quite so sweeping in the statement that I have made. Under the Order which we are going to ask the House to make to-morrow the whole of the seats of the country will be reviewed with relation to a standard-size constituency.
Will the House have an opportunity of considering the principles that will underlie the future distribution, about which there may be some argument?
:There was a Re-distribution of Seats Measure passed in the last Parliament, which did deal in general terms with the issue raised by the hon. Member. Perhaps he will look at it and refresh his memory. If he does he might find that the questions he wants to raise have already been settled.