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Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 6, line 9, leave out from beginning to end of line 50 on page 7 and insert--
("North East Darlington Unitary Authority 4
Durham County
Hartlepool Unitary Authority
Middlesbrough Unitary Authority
Redcar and Cleveland Unitary Authority
Stockton-on-Tees Unitary Authority
Northumberland County
Tyne & Wear Metropolitan County
North West Cumbria County 10
Cheshire County
Halton Unitary Authority
Warrington Unitary Authority
Greater Manchester Metropolitan County
Blackburn with Darwen Unitary Authority
Blackpool Unitary Authority
Lancashire County
Merseyside Metropolitan County
Yorkshire and the Humber East Riding of Yorkshire Unitary Authority 7
Kingston-upon-Hull Unitary Authority
North East Lincolnshire Unitary Authority
North Lincolnshire Unitary Authority
North Yorkshire County
York Unitary Authority
South Yorkshire Metropolitan County
West Yorkshire Metropolitan County
East Midlands Derby Unitary Authority 6
Derbyshire County
Nottingham Unitary Authority
Nottinghamshire County
Leicester Unitary Authority
Leicestershire County
Northamptonshire County
Rutland Unitary Authority
Lincolnshire County
West Midlands Herefordshire Unitary Authority 8
Warwickshire County
Worcestershire County
Shropshire County
Staffordshire County
Stoke-on-Trent Unitary Authority
Telford and the Wrekin Unitary Authority
West Midlands Metropolitan County
Eastern Bedfordshire County 8
Hertfordshire County
Luton Unitary Authority
Essex County
Southend-on-Sea Unitary Authority
Thurrock Unitary Authority
Cambridgeshire County
Norfolk County
Peterborough Unitary Authority
South East Bracknell Forest Unitary Authority 11
Buckinghamshire County
Milton Keynes Unitary Authority
Oxfordshire County
Reading Unitary Authority
Slough Unitary Authority
West Berkshire Unitary Authority
Windsor & Maidenhead Unitary Authority
Wokingham Unitary Authority
Hampshire County
Isle of Wight Unitary Authority
Portsmouth Unitary Authority
Southampton Unitary Authority
Kent County
Medway Towns Unitary Authority
Brighton & Hove Unitary Authority
East Sussex County
Surrey County
West Sussex County
Suffolk County
London Greater London 10
South West Bath & North East Somerset Unitary Authority 7
Bristol Unitary Authority
Gloucestershire County
North Somerset Unitary Authority
South Gloucestershire Unitary Authority
Swindon Unitary Authority
Wiltshire County
Cornwall County
Devon County
Isles of Scilly Council
Plymouth Unitary Authority
Torbay Unitary Authority
Bournemouth Unitary Authority
Dorset County
Poole Unitary Authority
Somerset County")

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The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall touch on Amendments Nos. 43 and 44. I can give the noble Lord an assurance that I shall not be moving those two amendments. They are matters that I prefer to return to at a later stage. It may be that some Members of the Committee, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, might wish to follow me in some of my comments.

Amendment No. 42 is a brief drafting amendment. When the noble Lord's advisers drafted this Bill and Schedule 1 they used the old names for the local authority areas. I do not know why they did that. It struck us that it would be more appropriate if the new names were used for the different areas. That is all that Amendment No. 42 does. It does not change the size or the shape of the areas.

Speaking as a true reactionary of the finest sort, I would prefer to go back to the old county names in their entirety and, as regards the North West, to speak simply of Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire and Cheshire and none of the nonsense about Merseyside and so on. But if we are to be modern then we should be truly modern and use some of the new areas. That is why my amendment is filled with odd bodies such as the Warrington Unitary Authority and others as they should be, rather than the older form used by the noble Lord. I merely offer that to the Government by way of a drafting amendment.

Behind these amendments there is something more serious and that is the size of the regions. We believe that it is important for the regions to be of similar size as far as possible. Since it is the purpose of the Bill, they should be of a size which allows a degree of proportionality. As regards the smallest region, the North East, it is very difficult to get true proportionality. Obviously, I have to be careful about the criticisms I make of the Government's attempt here. For the North East they have produced the smallest figure of four Members. I shall not be moving the two amendments on

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this occasion because we have produced regions with only three for East Anglia. We would like to come back to that in due course and try to find another way.

The Government's justification for the regions that they have chosen is that we set them up when we were in government, but that was for quite different purposes. In effect, they are the DTI regions. I do not believe that simply using the regions for this purpose is good enough. They were created for an entirely different purpose and not to be parliamentary regions for the European Parliament or to be developed later into regional entities of the kind that might gradually be allowed to become regional assemblies along the lines of those being constructed for Wales and Scotland. In other words, I do not believe that we should encourage their use to allow the gradual regionalisation of England.

As we all know, the regions are entirely artificial, as my noble friend Lord Waddington made perfectly clear yesterday. There is very little community of interest in some of the different parts. I believe he mentioned the South West; it stretches from Swindon to the Isles of Scilly. The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and myself know the north west well. It stretches from Cheshire to the Scottish border. There is very little community of interest, as it were, between Cumbria and Merseyside. The South East region extends from darkest Kent to Milton Keynes. The regions cover large areas and they have to if there are to have 10 or so Members of the European Parliament. I do not believe that they should necessarily be fixed in stone and remain in existence in perpetuity, particularly if that gives greater validity to them as regions and allows them to develop yet further into something which they are not. The noble Lord will say that they were first used by us for DTI purposes; then they were taken over for this electoral purpose; and later they will be developed in other ways.

It is important that we should try to find slightly different areas. They should be larger in some cases, particularly the North East with only four Members. I suspect that that will be very much to the advantage of the party opposite. In due course it should be possible to alter the size of the regions, should that be necessary. At that point one would want to involve the Boundary Commission if regions grew or shrunk according to changes in the population. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: I do not wish to say anything about Amendment No. 42 itself, but since the noble Lord has touched on Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 which involve some change to the proposed boundaries, I would like to speak to them briefly. It seems that in one or two instances there is a case for boundary changes; for example, it is arguable that the northern region, including Cumbria, would be a more satisfactory region on the grounds of greater equality of population between the regions. I accept that it is desirable that the regions should be broadly equal in size.

However, it is also arguable that the main communication links of Cumbria are with the North West via the M.6 and the west coast main line, rather than with the North East via the A.69 and the Carlisle-to-Newcastle railway line. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has not spoken in detail about the

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proposals, but those for the South East are unsatisfactory. There is a problem with that area because it is already too big. It is the largest of the constituencies. To add large parts of the eastern counties to it would simply unbalance the figures still further, let alone adding Greater London as well, as proposed in Amendment No. 43 but not in Amendment No. 44.

One could argue for weeks about the desirable boundaries between the regions, but, broadly speaking, it seems to us that the regions, if not ideal, are acceptable. Therefore, we would not support any amendment for their further variation.

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