The Electoral Commission is to publish initial findings on the 13th September for its review of boundaries. There will then be a 12 week public consultation period and two other public reviews before the September 2018 presentation to Parliament.
The Commission has an objective to maintain equality in the numbers of registered voters in each constituency while respecting local affinities.
For the 2018 review Parliament has directed that the number of constituencies is reduced to 600 from 650. This is objected to by the opposition, Labour, as their seats tend to be in smaller constituencies although they maintain that there is a higher number of unregistered people in those areas. While the Conservatives claim that Labour has a built in majority by having too many seats.
The North West has an electorate of 5,074,302 and 75 seats. It is expected this will be reduced to 68 seats. The North West will have the biggest reduction in seats of any area.
Scotland and Wales have the smallest electoral numbers in constituencies, with one in Scotland being only 21,000. The Isle of Wight is the largest being 108,000 and several in the South East are very big. Preston is in the smaller ones with 59,000. The average needs to be around 75,000 and all the others, except 4, are to be within plus or minus 5% or between about 71,000 to 79,000.
The proposal is to be made to the Secretary of State by September 2018 and to be used in the General Election of 2020.
It seems reasonable to have seats with similar numbers of voters. It isn’t fair to voters if a few people can vote in an MP in one place and it takes thousands more in another. We don’t allow for registered voters who don’t vote in elections and similarly we shouldn’t allow for unregistered voters. It also seems sensible to reduce the number of MPs. It isn’t obvious that an extra few thousand voters will add an intolerable burdon to an MPs workload if some already cover nearly 100,000.
Another difficulty with the change is that a number of MPs are going to lose their seat altogether and that can make things harder for party leaders.
Overall this seems a good thing and look to a similar exercise in the House of Lords.
Keep up to date on the Electoral Commission website: