Lords debates parliamentary Boundary Commission

13 July 2012

Lords debated the implications for political representation and democracy within the current proposals by the parliamentary Boundary Commission and matters relating to electoral administration yesterday (Thursday 12 July).

Lords with an interest in local politics, including some ex-councillors and former MPs took part.

Baroness O'Cathain (Conservative) spoke of young people's attitudes to voting that she has heard during her work for the House of Lords outreach programme.

She presented the need to make young people understand that the 'future is in their hands'. She said: 'Several times during the outreach programme, I have had evidence and also a sense that some young people are turned off by the political attitudes adopted by older people in their sphere of influence - parents, friends, friends of the family and neighbours.'

Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat), who has an interest in the subject as director of Make Votes Count, who campaign for electoral choice, addressed the work of boundary commissions.

He said there had been progress on the implementation of individual electoral registration. 'The process is not just for elections to that particular council, so uniformly high standards must be applied to the process in each local authority area,' he said. 

Baroness Taylor of Bolton (Labour) explained how she has given evidence to boundary inquiries on several occasions as a local MP.

She explained: 'My old constituency of Bolton West was subject to significant change in the 1980s and my constituency of Dewsbury, which I represented from 1987, was redrawn in rather an unusual way. I have always given evidence to the effect that I believe that community and identity should be the main consideration... It is important that people can identify in that way and that that relationship can be developed.'  

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat), who has an interest in constitutional affairs, responded on behalf of the government. He summed up: 'Our system of democracy is not working very well; our public are increasingly disengaged and disillusioned; and we need to think about a whole series of changes in how we behave towards and relate with the public and about the best way in which to engage them again in local and national politics.'

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