Wales Bill – Constituency Sizes

Mr Hain: Is the right hon. Lady saying that somehow Welsh MPs work less hard than they used to, or do not work as hard as she and others with English constituencies do?

Mrs Gillan: The former Secretary of State and I have engaged on this topic before. A constituency such as Arfon has only 41,138 electors and Chesham and Amersham has 70,000, so—in the interests of fairness and equality, the need for which is often spouted by the Opposition—we should look at equalising the number of constituents across constituencies. Democracy costs dearly—

Mr Hain: The right hon. Lady has not answered my question. All she has to say is yes or no. Do Welsh MPs work harder or less hard than she and her colleagues in English constituencies do?

Mrs Gillan: The right hon. Gentleman knows that many Welsh seats have fewer constituents than many English seats, and he also knows that many of the responsibilities are devolved—

Mr Hain: Yes or no?

Mrs Gillan: Well, the right hon. Gentleman can answer yes or no to my question. Does he think that the salary costs alone for every Welsh constituency— amounting to £147,00 compared with just over £66,000—are fair? Yes or no?

Mr Hain: The right hon. Lady has not answered my question. She has changed the question. She has traditionally been hostile to devolution, so she is now inventing all sorts of other issues. The simple fact is that we are not second-class MPs because we are from Wales: we are on the same level as she is, until her Government change that.

Mrs Gillan: I am not going to trade insults with the right hon. Gentleman. He has 57,823 constituents on the roll, as of 1 December 2010. I have never, ever said that a Welsh MP was a second-class MP, as well he knows. However, if he chooses to go down that line, I have to say that the boundary change and the reduction in the number of MPs should have been carried out and I am sorry it was blocked by vested interests.

Let me turn to the financial provisions in the Bill. I have lo