Thursday, 12 August 2010

Keep Cornwall Whole

Last night was the first meeting of the Keep Cornwall Whole campaign. This is the group which has come together to fight threats to create parliamentary constituencies which cross the Cornwall - Devon border.

The threat comes from the wording of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which proposes that there should be a reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and that the number of electors in each seat should not vary by more than 5% from the average. Cornwall would be due about five and a half seats under the new numbers and both five seats and six seats would be well outside the 5% margin for error.

So the only answer would be to cross the border and have a 'Devonwall' seat. This is something that I and the vast majority of my colleagues oppose. We know that all three Lib Dem MPs oppose it, as do at least two of the three Cornish Tory MPs. Labour Leadership candidate David Milliband also gave his support to the campaign. Of course MK and many others also back the campaign too. Our campaign is very much a cross party one with all of Cornwall speaking together.

Our aim is to persuade the Government that the eastern boundary of Cornwall should be protected in law - alongside those of Scotland and Wales.

The Bill will be debated by MPs for the first time on 6th September. That debate will be on the principle of the changes - to introduce a fairer voting system and to reduce the number of MPs. On that, both the Lib Dems and Conservatives agree (and Labour agree with the voting system change of it). So for that reason there is unlikely to be much of a rebellion on that date. BBC Radio Cornwall's Graham Smith is therefore wrong to identify that as the key date.

The important debates will come when the Bill is debated line by line in committee and then in the House of Lords. It is there that those who back Keep Cornwall Whole will be seeking to make changes so that there are no Devonwall constituencies.

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