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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 18:06 GMT
MPs attack boundary plans
House of Commons
The number of Scottish MPs is to be cut
Plans to redraw the political map of Lanarkshire have been condemned as "fundamentally wrong" by a Labour MP.

Jimmy Hood, the member for Clydesdale, said proposals to move part of his constituency into a seat which would stretch to the border were "unacceptable".

The Boundary Commission's proposals for the area were also attacked by MP Bill Tynan and MSP Tom McCabe at a local inquiry in Hamilton.

There is a need to unite, not divide communities

Bill Tynan
The commission has launched a series of inquiries into the controversial plans for a new map which would cut the number of Scottish constituencies from 72 to 59.

The move was required under the Scotland Act, which paved the way for the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

It contained an agreement to reduce Scotland's representation at Westminster.

The proposed map would abolish the current seats of new Labour Party chairman Dr John Reid and several other cabinet ministers.

Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell also faces a fight, although Labour is likely to ensure that seats are found for ministers.

'Huge constituency'

On Monday, Mr Hood told the inquiry that the proposals affecting his constituency were flawed and "fundamentally wrong".

He argued that Clydesdale accounted for half of Lanarkshire.

"It is unacceptable to take almost one third of that geography and merge it as with Lanarkshire, create a super huge constituency with Peebles, and Anandale and Dumfries," he said.

Tom McCabe
Tom McCabe opposes the changes
"Gretna Green would be in the same parliamentary constituency as Coalburn, 75 miles away."

Mr Tynan, the Labour MP for Hamilton South, told the hearing that the previous division of Hamilton into two constituencies had caused anger, confusion and resentment.

"Hamilton should not be divided. I agree with the depth of feeling shown by many - there is a need to unite, not divide communities," he said.

"If asked where they live or come from, they don't say Hamilton North, East, West or South - they say Hamilton."

Mr McCabe said the proposals compounded mistakes made in the past over the Hamilton boundaries.

Difficult task

"The time has come to repair the damage and not simply make it worse," he said.

"It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for me to convey adequately the disappointment and frustration felt by a great many people over these changes."

He acknowledged that the Boundary Commission proposals - which would split Hamilton into east and west rather than the current division of north and south - were an objective attempt to complete a difficult task.

But he added: "I would suggest that malice itself could not have produced a worse solution."

Neighbouring seat

The two-day sitting in Hamilton is due to be followed by a hearing in Peebles, followed by a further two-day sitting in Dumfries later this month.

There has been controversy over proposals to split Dumfries MP Russell Brown's constituency in two.

The Boundary Commission wants to move Dumfriesshire into a new super-Borders seat, stretching from just south of Edinburgh to Gretna.

The town of Dumfries would become part of the neighbouring seat currently held by the Tories.

See also:

24 Oct 02 | Scotland
24 Oct 02 | Politics
02 Sep 02 | Scotland
07 Feb 02 | Scotland
06 Feb 02 | Scotland
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