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Parliamentary Boundary Review

Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2012

The boundary commissions are continuing with the boundary review in accordance with the legislation, which requires them to report before October next year. It will be for Parliament to consider the recommendations and vote on them in due course.

The Conservative Members of the coalition delivered AV—[Interruption.] They delivered the opportunity for AV, and the biggest majority in this Parliament on a Second Reading was for House of Lords reform, so how can the Deputy Prime Minister then vote against the boundary review and expect to remain in the Government? Is it his view that that is a principle of the highest integrity and in the interests of democracy?

I am delighted that, if only fleetingly, the hon. Gentleman was in favour of AV and not just of the principle of holding a referendum on AV. As he knows, we are honouring the coalition agreement by leaving the boundary review legislation on the statute book. That is primary legislation from the past which Liberal Democrat Members passed, but for all the reasons that I have explained before, we are not going to introduce the changes ahead of the general election in 2015.

12. The Deputy Prime Minister says that the Liberal Democrats will not vote for the boundary change proposals but the chair of the Conservative party, speaking for once using his real name, says that he has still not given up hope, so who should we have confidence in—him or the chair of the Conservative party? (122142)

Yes, I have also read press reports that the chairman of the Conservative party wishes to strike a deal with us on boundaries in return for a party funding deal. I suppose that is finally a “get rich quick” scheme which he is prepared to put his name to. Let me be clear—[Interruption.]

Let me put it this way: a change of mind on my part on the issue as is likely as the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) going to Norway to accept the Nobel prize on behalf of the European Union. It is not going to happen.

Why does the Deputy Prime Minister oppose the proposals by the Boundary Commission today when he was all in favour of them last September? Did anyone expect him to change his view by 180°?

I was surprised when parties and Members in this House, having fought on a manifesto commitment to reform the House of Lords, decided against simply voting in favour of a timetable motion to do so. These things happen, and I think that everybody in the country understands that a coalition Government is a deal. It is like a contract, and where one part of the contract is amended another part of the contract is amended as well, and we move on.

I begin by welcoming the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, the hon. Member for Norwich North (Miss Smith) and congratulating her on her new role. We genuinely wish her well. I also welcome the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister has finally found some principle and backbone. We welcome his rigour in answering the last question raised in relation to the one asked by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone). But bearing in mind that during the last year thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on a boundary review that will be futile, and that there will be uncertainty and further taxpayers’ money spent during the next 14 months, why not use his power to put a stop to it now?

As I have explained, the legislation is on the statute book and that will not change. I have merely made clear during the last few weeks and months the position of Liberal Democrat Members when the matter comes to a vote.