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Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 10 November 2010

6. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the implications for Northern Ireland of the provisions of part 2 of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill. (22152)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have had regular discussions with ministerial colleagues and with elected representatives in Northern Ireland on the provisions of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, and will continue to do so as the Bill continues its progress through both Houses.

Does the Minister recognise that as it stands, part 2 of the Bill has serious implications for the Northern Ireland Assembly, whose constituencies are meant to be coterminous with parliamentary constituencies? Reviews every five years that could put those constituencies out of cycle, or change the total number of constituencies in Northern Ireland, will be hugely unsettling. Will he take steps to ensure that full consideration is undertaken with the authorities in the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as with his ministerial colleagues?

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The hon. Gentleman raised this matter during the passage of the Bill. It is true that coterminosity between the parliamentary and Assembly seats has worked well, and the amended rules can continue to provide for the Electoral Commission to take that into account. I should say to him that as he knows, the size of the Assembly is up to the Assembly, not to Parliament or to this House through the Bill.