Motion to Consider
The Boundary Commission for Scotland submitted its Report on Interim Review of Scottish Parliament Boundaries at Princes Gate and Greenacres by Robroyston to the Secretary of State for Scotland on 30 October 2013, and a copy was laid before this Parliament on the same day. The commission also laid a copy of the report before the Scottish Parliament.
The Scotland Act 1998 requires the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament, as soon as practicable after receipt of the report, a draft of an Order in Council giving effect to the recommendations in the commission’s report. The draft order was laid on 18 December 2013.
The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments considered this order at its meeting on 15 January 2014 and did not report it. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has also reviewed the order and did not note it as being of special interest.
The order sets out the name, status and area of 71 of the 73 Scottish Parliament constituencies and the name and area of each Scottish Parliament region. The Orkney Islands constituency and the Shetland Islands constituency are not included in the order because Schedule 1 to the Scotland Act 1998 provides for them directly.
The order takes account of the changes recommended by the Boundary Commission for Scotland to the Glasgow Provan constituency and Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency, and the region boundary between Glasgow region and West Scotland region. Apart from these changes, the constituencies and regions remain the same as set out in the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies and Regions) Order 2010. This order gives effect, without modifications, to the recommendations contained in the commission’s report.
Under the Scotland Act 1998, Ministers have no powers to direct the commission to make changes to its recommendations or to make provision in the order for boundaries that do not reflect the commission’s recommendations. The changes recommended by the commission align the Scottish Parliament constituency boundaries at Princes Gate and Greenacres by Robroyston with the administrative boundary between Glasgow City and East Dunbartonshire council areas and will affect about 20 electors.
The changes to the Scottish Parliament boundaries reflect changes in the administrative boundaries between the two council areas which took effect after the previous report on the Scottish Parliament constituency and regional boundaries, which was published in May 2010. The commission’s review was uncontroversial and only two representations were received following the publication of its initial proposals. Both these representations, which were from East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow City councils, expressed support for the proposals and there were no objections or alternative suggestions. The commission therefore decided to adopt its initial proposals as its final recommendations. This order gives effect to those final recommendations.
The order requires approval by both Houses before being made by Her Majesty in Council. The boundary changes will not take effect until the next general election to the Scottish Parliament, whether it is an ordinary or an extraordinary general election, nor will they affect any by-election held before the dissolution of that Parliament.
This is a short order which gives effect to uncontroversial changes and I therefore commend it to the Committee. I beg to move.
My Lords, I think that I welcome the order. It deals with a very few acres and, as the noble Earl said, 20 electors, but it is important to get these things right. I want to whinge about the fact that I am an elector in the Clackmannanshire and Dunblane constituency as proposed for 2016. I much preferred being part of the Ochil constituency along with Kinross-shire. However, that was an issue dealt with in 2010, so the Minister does not need to reply to it.
I believe that this is the last time that such an order will come to this Parliament. Before noble Lords think that I am referring to a yes vote, which I am not, I should explain that my reason for thinking that is the Scotland Act 2012. I therefore ask the Minister for his guidance on that matter. If it is not the last time, the no campaign needs to start getting its act together about it.
My Lords, I express an interest in this matter out of curiosity rather than anything else, because, around the north side of Glasgow, a great many of the constituency and county boundaries mark out the boundaries of our estate. A lot of them have remained so. That there is an East Dumbartonshire and a West Dumbartonshire is due to some of the interests that we had in the 16th century and they still remain. I am very interested to see this shift in the constituency boundary, which is marked on the back of the order. It looks like a map-maker ruled a line—I do not think that it is our estate, but, if it is, we obviously made a mistake and did not make the correct boundary previously. It is nice to see it being brought into some sort of line, so I welcome the order.
I thank the Minister for his clear outline of the order. I notice that the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, took some delight in what he saw as the no campaign’s tactics in these matters, but the proof of the pudding will be in September when—this is slightly out of order—Scotland votes to stay with the United Kingdom.
The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, bemoans, although not in a sour way, the loss of different estates. Perhaps that is because his family picked the wrong side in the various arguments going on there. If they had stuck with the Stuarts, they might have fared better in the long run. I apologise for internal Scottish point-scoring here.
As the Official Opposition spokesman, I of course welcome and endorse the report. If I was here in a personal capacity, I would advocate that, rather than go and be part of the Glasgow region, the area would be more at home in Lanarkshire. It is something that I might turn my personal attention to in the future if I get the opportunity. Having said that and having indulged myself a wee bit, I welcome the order and thank the Minister.
My Lords, I thank the Members of the Committee for their response to the order. The noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, asked whether we would have to continue to consider orders of this nature. The answer to that is yes, we will have to consider them in the future, as Scottish parliamentary boundaries have not been devolved. As I have explained, we are bound to implement the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, which is sponsored and funded by the Scotland Office. However, there is some reason in what the noble Earl suggests in that the Scotland Act 2012 devolved powers to Scottish Ministers to make provision for the conduct of the Scottish Parliament elections but not the boundaries. That is the reason for the confusion. I thank noble Lords for their contributions.