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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I thank the noble Lord for that. It is a rather complicated question. I probably know the answer but I always like to know whether I am right. I shall not tell the noble Lord what I think the answer is. I shall wait until I receive his letter.

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I noted down one point when he was explaining the amendments and I forgot to raise it. He said that the electoral commission could do a number of things with a report from the boundary commission: it could accept it, amend it, send it back and so on. When he said that, I wondered whether the electoral commission would do that of its own accord or do I assume that those political parties which were aggrieved by the findings of the boundary commission would make representations to the electoral commission? Would they be allowed to do that? Would that be part of the process; that the political parties would make representations?

If that is the case, the electoral commission will be extremely busy after boundary commission reports. If that has not been thought about, perhaps it should be thought about.

Lord Bach : It seems unrealistic to suppose that attempts will not be made by all political parties or none to the electoral commission. But it will be a test of that body's independence as to how it responds to those requests. "Requests" may be putting it rather lightly. The decision as to what to do with the report of the boundary committee will be one for the electoral commission. We are sure that that will be taken in an independent, non-partisan way.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 50B:


    Page 9, line 20, at end insert--


("( ) The Commission shall, where any functions fall to be exercised by a Boundary Committee as mentioned in subsection (3), so exercise their powers of appointment under this section and section 14 as to secure--
(a) that at least one of the members of the Committee is a person with experience of local government matters in England, Scotland or Wales (as the case may be); and
(b) that, in the case of the Boundary Committee for Wales, at least one of the members of the Committee is a person able to speak the Welsh language.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 51 not moved.]

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 [Deputy Electoral Commissioners]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 52:


    Page 9, line 36, at end insert--


("( ) A person shall not be appointed as a Deputy Electoral Commissioner if he is a person who (by virtue of section 3(3A)) may not be appointed as an Electoral Commissioner.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

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Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 52A:


    After Clause 14, insert the following new clause--

TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS OF BOUNDARY COMMISSIONS

(".--(1) The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 shall have effect subject to the amendments specified in Part I of Schedule (Transfer of functions of Boundary Commissions), by virtue of which--
(a) the functions of each of the Boundary Commissions under section 3(1) and (3) of that Act (functions with respect to keeping under review, and reporting on, representation in the House of Commons of the part of the United Kingdom with which they are concerned) are transferred to the Electoral Commission; and
(b) functions with respect to--
(i) the carrying out of reviews under that Act with respect to a particular part of the United Kingdom, and
(ii) the submission to the Electoral Commission of proposed recommendations following any such review,
are conferred on the Boundary Committee established for that part of the United Kingdom under section 13 above.
(2) The consequential amendments of other Acts specified in Part II of Schedule (Transfer of functions of Boundary Commissions) shall have effect.
(3) A Boundary Commission shall cease to exist at such time as the Secretary of State, being satisfied that they have no further functions to perform, by order directs.
(4) In this section "Boundary Commission" means one of the Boundary Commissions constituted under that Act.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Boundary Commissions: transfer of functions]:

On Question, Whether Clause 15 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Bach : We intend to oppose the Question that Clause 15 stand part of the Bill for the reason I have stated; that is, we are replacing it, effectively, with the new Schedule 3.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: A word count would show that the Government have replaced a very short clause with a substantial number of lines and words.

Lord Bach: I am sure that is right. However, if we have got it right, it is worth it.

Clause 15 negatived.

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Local Government Commission for England]:

[Amendment No. 53 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 53A:


    Page 10, line 37, leave out ("the transfer to the Commission of any one or more") and insert ("and in connection with transferring to--


(a) the Commission, or

10 Oct 2000 : Column 226


(b) the Boundary Committee for England,
any").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): Before calling Amendment No. 53B, I must inform the Committee that if that amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 53C which stands in the names of the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Rennard.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 53B:


    Page 10, line 41, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert--


("(2) The provision made by order under subsection (1) as respects the distribution of functions between the Commission and the Boundary Committee for England shall broadly correspond to that made by Part I of Schedule (Transfer of functions of Boundary Commissions) as respects the distribution of functions between those bodies.
(3) The English Commission shall cease to exist at such time as the Secretary of State, being satisfied that they have no further functions to perform, by order directs.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 53C not moved.]

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 54 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 54A:


    After Clause 17, insert the following new clause--

LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOUNDARY COMMISSION FOR SCOTLAND

(".--(1) The Scottish Ministers may by order make provision for and in connection with transferring to--
(a) the Commission, or
(b) the Boundary Committee for Scotland,
any of the functions of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (in this section referred to as "the Scottish Commission").
(2) The provision made by order under subsection (1) as respects the distribution of functions between the Commission and the Boundary Committee for Scotland shall broadly correspond to that made by Part I of Schedule (Transfer of functions of Boundary Commissions) as respects the distribution of functions between those bodies.
(3) The Scottish Commission shall cease to exist at such time as the Scottish Ministers, being satisfied that the Scottish Commission have no further functions, by order direct.
(4) An order under subsection (1) or (3) may include provision for the transfer to the Commission--
(a) of the staff of the Scottish Commission, and
(b) of any property (including rights and interests of any description) and liabilities to which the Scottish Commission are entitled or subject;
and an order which contains provision such as is mentioned in paragraph (b) may in particular provide for the order to have effect despite any provision (of whatever nature) which would prevent or restrict the transfer of the property or liabilities otherwise than by the order.
(5) An order under subsection (3) may include provision for the abolition of any duty in compliance with which the Scottish Commission was established or constituted.

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(6) Section 146(5) shall apply to an order made by the Scottish Ministers under this section as it applies to an order made by the Secretary of State under this Act and the reference in that section to enactments shall include a reference to any enactment comprised in or in an instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament.
(7) Any power of the Scottish Ministers to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the Scottish Parliament.
(8) The Scottish Ministers shall reimburse the Commission for any expenditure incurred by them which is attributable to the exercise of any of the functions transferred by an order made under subsection (1).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18 [Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales]:


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