Volume 10 (1929) / Pages 1211 - 1212
The House met at Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Paper Presented. Ministry of Commerce:
Return of Assurance Companies for the year 1928. (By Act).
ORDERS OF THE DAY.
House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Bill.
Second Allotted Day.
Considered in Committee (Progress 21st March).
[Mr. MOLES in the Chair].
CLAUSE 2 (Redistribution of Seats).
(1) Each of the areas mentioned in the first column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Act shall be a parliamentary borough returning the number of members of the House of Commons specified opposite to the name of that borough in the said Part, and shall be divided into the divisions specified therein, and each such division shall return one member.
(2) Each of the areas mentioned in the first column of Part II of the First Schedule to this Act shall be a parliamentary county returning the number of members of the House of Commons specified opposite to the name of that county in the said Part, and shall be divided into the divisions specified therein, and each such division shall return one member.
The following Amendment stood in the name of Mr. Patrick O'Neill:
Page 4, line 22, to leave out from "divisions" ("divided into the divisions") to the end of line 23 ("return one member") and insert "of equal population".
The CHAIRMAN: The first Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Down (Mr. Patrick
O'Neill) proposes to delete the words after "divisions" in order to insert other words. If he would look at the Clause he will see that for strict grammatical construction we should also omit the word "the". I suggest that the hon. Member might omit all the words after "into" in order to insert "divisions of equal population." Perhaps he would move his Amendment in that form,
Mr. PATRICK O'NEILL: I agree. I beg to move to leave out the words from "into" and to insert "divisions of equal population". This Amendment asks the Government to carry out the terms of the Preamble of the Bill, which says that due regard shall be had to the population of the constituencies. I do not see that there is any justification for the Government in any instance having discrepancies in the numbers of the population in the divisions set out in the Schedule to this Bill. This is particularly the case in the City of Belfast where there are differences of from 18,700 to 33,600. It would be very interesting to know the reason for the differences of population in the constituencies in this city. While there might be some reasonâ??though I. do not admit itâ?? in the country districts as to the size of the population there would not seem to me to be any reason why we could not have the constituencies in the city all of an equal size.
I am one of those who do not believe you have not the power to do that, that is, if you have power to pass this Bill at all. If you have that power, I think you are bound to make the constituencies as nearly as possible of an equal size. There are here many instances where you have not done that. The differences with regard to the country constituencies are also in some cases large. In County Fermanagh the constituencies have each a population of less than 20,000. You may argue that this is because this county has been separated from Tyrone, and you may say that you felt obliged to separate it, but I should like to know greater reasons than any you have given for doing so. I believe, in fact I am certain, it would have been much fairer to keep the counties together.
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid the hon. Gentleman is departing a little from the particular portion of the Schedule relating to this Clause 2. We can only deal with Part I of the Schedule, and what the hon. Gentleman is discussing relates to Part II.