PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES (SCOTLAND) ORDER 1996

Tuesday 16 July 1996

LONDON: HMSO

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1

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Patrick Thompson

Adams, Mrs. Irene (Paisley, North)

Amess, Mr. David (Basildon)

Bates, Mr. Michael (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury)

Body, Sir Richard (Holland with Boston)

Bray, Dr. Jeremy (Motherwell, South)

Davidson, Mr. Ian (Glasgow, Govan)

Deva, Mr. Nirj Joseph (Brentford and Isleworth)

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James (Minister of State, Scottish Office)

Fyfe, Mrs. Maria (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Home Robertson, Mr. John (East Lothian)

Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)

Macdonald, Mr. Calum (Western Isles)

McFall, Mr. John (Dumbarton)

Monro, Sir Hector (Dumfries)

O'Neill, Mr. Martin (Clackmannan)

Powell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore)

Salmond, Mr. Alex (Banff and Buchan)

Tracey, Mr. Richard (Surbiton)

Vaughan, Sir Gerard (Reading, East)

D. W. N. Doig, Committee Clerk

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3 Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation Tuesday 16 July 1996

[MR. PATRICK THOMPSON in the Chair]

Draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1996

4.30 pm

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1996. May I say that the Boundary Commission was totally independent, that there are, to the best of my knowledge, no burning issues and that I shall be very happy to answer any questions.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): I agree with the Minister that the commission was independent. My party has no objection to its proposals—indeed, we are perfectly content with them. I wish only for it to be noted that if Scotland were an independent country, it would be discussing 16 seats in the European Parliament, not eight.

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton): It is a privilege for me to speak here today, particularly in the company of the honourable Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond). He rarely attends Committee sittings, so we are privileged by his presence today. I accept the independent statement of the Boundary 4 Commission for Scotland. My party has no objections to it, and we thank the commission for its work.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I can reply in two sentences. I shall not be tempted into a major debate on the arguments for and against Scottish independence. The commission considered all the arguments very thoroughly and it came to conclusions that were generally acceptable to the people of Scotland. To the best of my knowledge, apart from a proposal—which was not accepted—from one honourable Member to rename a constituency so that it included the name of his own, no other significant representations were made. However, the representations of the honourable Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) were acted on.

Mr. Salmond: The Minister might reflect that some Members of the European Parliament made substantial representations, which the honourable Member for Western Isles did not agree with, effectively to abolish the Highlands and Islands European constituency. The Boundary Commission, in its wisdom, refused to listen to those gerrymandering proposals.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I agree with honourable Gentleman that the Boundary Commission representations were sensible. The fact that it took the representations of the honourable Member for Western Isles into account speaks for the wisdom of its decisions. I commend the order to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (Scotland) Order 1996.

Committee rose at twenty-eight minutes to Five o'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Thompson, Mr. Patrick (Chairman)

Bates, Mr.

Deva, Mr.

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Macdonald, Mr.

McFall, Mr.

Monro, Sir Hector

Powell, Mr.

Salmond, Mr.

Vaugham, Sir Gerard