Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Keep Cornwall Whole

Over the last few days, I have been very active within the new ““Keep Cornwall Whole” group. This has brought together campaigners from across the political spectrum, representatives of community and cultural groups, to oppose the creation of Devonwall constituencies through the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill.

As has been pointed out many times, the Bill seeks to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600. It wants all constituencies to be within 5% of the average constituency size. If the Bill is left unaltered, this would mean that Cornwall would have at least one cross border seat with Devon.

“Keep Cornwall Whole” has sent a submission to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and it has also written to all 650 MPs, in advance of the Second Reading of the Bill which took place yesterday.

The letter called on them to seek changes to the Bill, which would protect the historic integrity of Cornwall. One section stated that:

“The Bill, if unaltered, would mean that that Cornwall would inevitably have at least one cross border seat with Devon, despite its exceptionally distinct Celtic history and culture, unique geography as a peninsula bounded by the Tamar River, special constitutional position, and a specific economic profile that merits EU Convergence Funding.”

The submission and letter were sent by Adam Killeya, the Mayor of Saltash, with the support of Conservative, Green, Independent, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Mebyon Kernow representatives (myself included).

The Second Reading took place yesterday and I have to say I was very disappointed that the impact of the Bill on Cornwall did not feature more strongly in the debate. I understand, from reading the Hansard record of the debate that 74 MPs put their names down to speak, of whom forty were able to make a contribution.

Of the six Cornish MPs, only George Eustice made a speech. He outlined his opposition to the Alternative Vote and it did not even look like he was going to talk about specific Cornish concerns, until there was a short intervention from Sheryl Murray. It went as follows:

Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be extremely unfair to expect one of the Cornish constituencies—his, mine, or one of the others—to cross the historic Tamar border that we already have?

George Eustice (Camborne and Redruth) (Con): My hon. Friend makes an absolutely valid point. Cornwall is a special case. It is not just a normal county—it is a duchy. That is certainly something that should be considered in Committee.

It is disappointing that the opportunity to address Cornish concerns were not tackled, especially when other members were able to focus in some detail on “regional” concerns, such as Andrew Turner MP from the Isle of Wight, and MPs from Scotland and Wales.

What a wasted opportunity!

I assume the three Lib Dem MPs from Cornwall were among the 30-plus MPs who wanted to speak but were not called by the Speaker.

One further MP, Mr Michael McCann (Labour) East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow mentioned Cornwall and Trotsky! The contribution stated:

“The Bill includes other measures that would be detrimental to our parliamentary system, including the arbitrary reduction of the number of constituencies and the permanent revolution resulting from the boundary changes before each Parliament. Trotsky would indeed be proud of the Bill on that basis alone. However, just in case anyone develops the mistaken and untrue impression that only Members of the House are concerned, I also have a correspondence with Keep Cornwall Whole, which demonstrates that people outside the House believe that the Bill is wrong and that it should not proceed.”

This morning, Cornwall Council unanimously passed a motion that Members of Parliament should vote to enable Cornwall to be represented by MPs whose constituencies lie entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

30 Plus MP's that were not able to speak.

Shame as i know at least one of our Blue MP's had some good points to put across who didn't get a full say.

hopefully the others did as well