Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Boundary Commission process

The current parliamentary boundary review began in 2011, and is being carried out under the terms of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act which provides that:
·         The size of parliament shall be fixed at 600 members (compared with the current 650)
·         The electorate of every constituency shall be not more than 5% above or below a national Electoral Quota.  (There are three protected areas not subject to this rule.)
·         There shall be a review in every five-year fixed term parliament.

The national Electoral Quota has been calculated based on the registered parliamentary electorate in December 2010 and is 76,641. The acceptable range of electorates is therefore 72,810 to 80,473 (five per cent above or below the Electoral Quota).

The Commission produced Provisional Recommendations which were then subject to a consultation period. This first draft was published in September 2011 and consulted on. Today's second draft of Revised Recommendations represents the Commission's response to that public consultation. These are  subject to a further consultation period of eight weeks before being finalised.

The Commission must then report to parliament before October 2013. Parliament will then consider the reports and if they are accepted the new constituencies come into force at the next general election.

The Commission may if it thinks fit take into account:
Local authority boundaries
Existing constituency boundaries
Special geographical circumstances such as the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency
            Any local ties that may be broken by changes

The Commission has indicated it will if at all reasonably possible, use district and unitary wards as building blocks. In England, the Commission has decided that it will respect the boundaries of European electoral regions. The allocation of seats in Greater London is 68, compared with the current 73. There would therefore be 5 fewer.

The Boundary Commission summary of its proposals for the Greater London region can be viewed here.

They are consulting on the revised proposals for an eight‑week period, from 16 October 2012 to 10 December 2012, and they encourage everyone to use this final opportunity to contribute to the design of the new constituencies. 

How to have your say:
  • Go to the Commission website
  • or write direct to Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQ
  • or email london@bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk. 
The Liberal Democrat Conference in September overwhelmingly backed Nick Clegg's  plan to block Conservative plans for Westminster boundary changes, following the failure to get reform of the House of Lords. If this position is adhered to then the proposals would fail to be passed by Parliament, and so would not become law.

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