Progress on redrawing the electoral map is possible—but not like thisby Lewis Baston / October 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
The Boundary Commissions for England, Scotland and Wales published their revised proposals for new parliamentary constituencies on 17th October, sending MPs and commentators to the maps and calculators. The initial proposals made earlier in the year were materially altered in more than half the proposed constituencies, as the Commissions tried to reflect the results of the open consultation exercise they had carried out over the spring and summer. Regrettably, the Commissions have also tinkered with and lengthened many constituency names.
The coalition government rewrote the rules on parliamentary boundaries in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. This, briefly, proposed to reduce the number of MPs to 600, a loss of 50 on the existing total, require a higher degree of equality in size of registered electorate than in the past (a maximum variation of only 5 per cent either side of the national average size would be permitted with only four exceptions for island seats) and have boundary reviews every five years. A review of the new rules started in 2012 but was terminated in 2013 by a Labour and Lib Dem amendment to postpone the exercise. The 2015 and 2017 elections, therefore, took place on the same boundaries as the 2010 election.
However, the amended law meant that a new boundary review started in early 2016 and that has produced recommendations for 600 seats based on equalising numbers on the December 2015 electoral register. The implementation order comes to parliament in October 2018 and if approved the new seats would be used from the first general election after that point. But there are question marks over whether it will be approved, or even if the government actually wants to go through with it any more.