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'(1A) The parliamentary constituencies to which paragraph 1(c) applies are those determined by the Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1995, or those Scottish Parliamentary constituencies determined following a report of the Boundary Commission for Scotland as determined by paragraph 3 of this Schedule, except a parliamentary constituency including either of those islands referred to in paragraphs 1(a) and 1(b).'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin): With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 62, in page 53, leave out lines 15 to 17. No. 63, in page 53, leave out lines 18 to 37 and insert--'Redistribution of Scottish Parliamentary constituencies--


3. (1) The Boundary Commission for Scotland shall keep under review the representation in the Scottish Parliament and shall submit to the Scottish Executive a report either:
(a) showing the constituencies into which they recommend that Scotland should be divided in order to give effect to the rules set out in Schedule 2 (subject to paragraph 7 thereof) to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (hereinafter referred to as the 1986 Act) in so far as they apply to Scotland, or
(b) stating that, in the opinion of the Commission, no alteration is required to be made in order to give effect to the rules set out in Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act (subject to paragraph 7 thereof).
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 81 of this Act, the rules in Schedule 2 of the 1986 Act as they apply to Scotland shall have effect in relation to the redistribution of the Parliamentary constituencies in paragraph 1(c).
(3) Subject to sub-paragraph (5), the provisions in sections 3, 5 and 6 of the 1986 Act shall, in so far as they apply to Scotland, have effect in relation to the reports and the workings of the Boundary Commission for Scotland's review of Parliamentary constituencies for the Scottish Parliament.
(4) Subject to sub-paragraph (5), the provisions in section 4 of the 1986 Act shall have effect in relation to the draft of any Order in Council laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Executive for giving effect, whether with or without modifications, to the recommendations contained in the report of the Boundary Commission for Scotland.
(5) References to the Secretary of State in the 1986 Act shall, for the purposes of this paragraph, be construed as references to the Scottish Executive and references to "Parliament" in the 1986 Act shall be construed as references to the Scottish Parliament.

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(6) The Boundary Commission for Scotland shall submit its first report under this paragraph to the Scottish Executive no later than 30th June 2005.
(7) In that report, the Commission shall also recommend any alteration in any of the regions which, in their opinion, is required to be made in order to give effect to the rules in paragraph 7.
(8) If the Commission do not make any such recommendation under sub-paragraph (7), they shall in the report state that, in their opinion, no such alteration is required.
(9) A report making a recommendation for an alteration in any region shall state the name by which the Commission recommend that the region should be known.'. No. 64, in page 53, leave out lines 38 to 43. No. 65, in page 53, line 46, leave out '3(2)' and insert '3(7)'.

Mr. Wallace: The scheme proposed in the Bill is designed principally to take account of the fact that the Government have recognised the need to reduce the number of Scottish Members at Westminster following the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. It also provides for the number of Members of the Scottish Parliament to be reduced to reflect the Westminster constituencies under the first-past-the-post system, and for a pro rata reduction in the number of additional Members in the various regions. The purpose of the amendment and those associated with it is to retain for the Scottish Parliament the 73 constituencies that exist under the first-past-the-post system and the seven additional Members in each of the eight regions. To achieve that, it would establish a boundary commission for Scotland, whose remit would be to review the 73 Scottish parliamentary constituencies. There are obviously population movements within those constituencies, and it would be important to ensure that those electorates remained of a relatively similar size.

Dr. Godman: In the current addition of The Scottish Review, the author of a paper argues that it is almost inevitable, over time, that the number of Scottish MPs in this House will be radically reduced, and that the number of MSPs in the Edinburgh Parliament is also likely to be reduced in the next decade or so.

Mr. Wallace: I think that the hon. Gentleman refers to an article by Mr. John Curtice of Strathclyde university, on which I propose to comment. Our amendments would retain the separate seats for Orkney and Shetland that are set out in the Bill. I acknowledge the Government's delivery of a commitment at the Scottish Constitutional Convention. When a similar provision was moved in Committee, we said that 129 Members--a figure that was struck after some debate in the convention--were needed so that, after the appointment of Ministers, there were sufficient Members to ensure the establishment of committees. There is to be a range of committees, such as pre-legislative, departmental and regional. If there is time, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie) will move an amendment on that topic. About 129 Members are required to fulfil all the Parliament's functions, and reducing the number to 104 or 105 would affect its workings.

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As the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) said, the number of Members could be substantially reduced as a result of the boundary commission's proposal. The article by John Curtice is far too technical to convey to the House in a short speech, but it shows that the number would creep up because of electoral quotas. The article is entitled "Reinventing the Yo-Yo", and shows that the number of Members will come down and then go back up. It states:


    "Far from securing a permanent reduction in the size of the Scottish Parliament, the provisions are likely to result in a Parliament which after a once and for all cut is likely to start gradually increasing in size such that by the middle of the next century it could well have returned to its original size." We are trying to retain some stability because that is important for the working of the Parliament. Its stability would not be helped if, after three or four years, a quarter of its Members thought that a sword was hanging over them because seats were about to disappear. That would lead to tension and rivalries, and might distract Members of the Scottish Parliament from the work in hand. It would not be healthy for the Parliament. We do not know what will happen here in future. The Government have set up an electoral commission under the chairmanship of my noble Friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead to look at different systems of proportional representation. We hope that there will be such a system for elections to Westminster sooner rather than later, and that would have consequences for the Scottish Parliament if it continued to reflect the Westminster model.

Dr. Godman: There may be a new assembly in Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Parliament and the two assemblies may have constituencies that are radically different in size. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman perfectly relaxed about that?

Mr. Wallace: At the moment, some constituencies vary substantially in size. I am not sure what is envisaged in terms of Northern Ireland representation in the House following the establishment of an assembly. We may be about to embark on a substantial change in the way that the Westminster Parliament is elected. If an additional member system were adopted, there could not possibly be 659 constituencies, because a massive number of top-ups, additional Members, would make the House unwieldy. We need to examine different sizes of constituencies--hence the need for a separate system for Scotland to secure the sort of agreement that was reached at the constitutional convention and is enshrined in the Bill. Those of us who were in the convention foresaw that there might be changes. In our agreement, which was headed "Scotland's Parliament--Scotland's Right", we said:


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    and the integrity of the corrective effect of the additional members. This function will be performed by the Boundary Commission for Scotland." That is precisely what the amendments seek to do--to retain a Parliament of 129 Members irrespective of a change in the number of Scottish Members at Westminster. When the matter was raised in Committee, the Minister said:


    "there are arguments on both sides, but we believe that the Bill strikes the right balance. I am mindful that he might not wish to press the amendments to a vote this evening; if that is the case, we shall have a chance to look further at the arguments involved."--[Official Report, 28 January 1998; Vol. 305, c. 456.] I am grateful to the Minister for looking further. I hope that my arguments in Committee and here will prove to be compelling.


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