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Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Scottish Labour Party

INTRODUCTION

  1.  The Scottish Labour Party administers the Labour Party in Scotland on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. Those parts of Party administration which apply only in Scotland are administrated by the Scottish Executive Committee in liaison with the National Executive Committee.

  The Scottish Executive would therefore be expected to have a view on: The size of the Scottish Parliament, the number of Westminster Constituencies in Scotland and the issue of the coterminosity of boundaries; the effects on the organisation of the Labour Party in Scotland of changes to the number of MPs and MSPs and any resultant lack of coterminosity.

THE SIZE OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

  2.  The Scottish Executive Committee of the Labour Party discussed the size of the Scottish Parliament, in light of the Secretary of State's consultation, at its meeting on 9 March 2002. It was decided at that meeting that the Scottish Labour Party would make a submission to that consultation. A copy of that submission is attached[1]


THE SCOTTISH BOUNDARY REVIEW

  3.  The Scottish Labour Party accepts that there will be a reduction in the number of Westminster constituencies in Scotland.

THE VOTING SYSTEM IN THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

  4.  The Scottish Labour Party at this stage has not taken a view on whether there is a need to change the method of electing Members of the Scottish Parliament. However, the party's stated view in its submission to the consultation on the size of the Scottish Parliament is that "as the Scotland Act was created out of a broad consensus, any proposed changes to the size of the composition of the Parliament should be based on a similar consensus". There is, as yet, no consensus on changing the method of electing the Scottish Parliament.

THE EFFECT ON THE ORGANISATION OF THE SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY

  5.  If the method of electing MSPs is not to change; and the number of MSPs is not to change; and there is to be a reduction in the number of MPs, the boundaries of Westminster and Scottish Parliament constituencies will therefore not be coterminous.

  6.  The Scottish Labour Party accepts that the lack of coterminosity will cause difficulties for party organisation. The Scottish Labour Party is however, of the view that the Scottish Parliament should retain the current number of members and therefore until a change is made we will meet the challenge the lack of coterminosity brings.

"IMPLICATIONS FOR TURNOUT AT ELECTIONS AND CLARITY FOR THE ELECTORATE OF THERE BEING FOUR SEPARATE VOTING SYSTEMS IN SCOTLAND INVOLVING THE UK PARLIAMENT, SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT".

  7.  The Scottish Labour Party has not taken a view on the implications for clarity and turnout of separate voting systems as the decision to maintain the number of MSPs at 129 and the resultant lack of coterminosity will not increase the number of electoral systems in use in Scotland.

October 2003


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