Call for boundary review law change

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Rules that mean parliamentary boundary reviews are on course to cut the number of MPs by 50 must be reversed, a Commons committee has recommended.

Laws introduced in the early days of the coalition paved the way for a reduction of Westminster seats and a change in the way they were drawn up, but further legislation that would have ushered in the reforms was blocked following a spat between the governing parties.

Plans to push the number of seats down to 600 and even out constituency sizes so they are approximately equal in size are set to resurface when a new boundary review is carried out next year.

The Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the case had not been made for having fewer MPs and called for a swift change to the laws.

It recommended that demands for the number of voters in each seat to be within 5% of the UK average number of electors for a constituency are increased to 10%.

Plans to redraw constituency boundaries before the general election were blocked by the Liberal Democrats in 2013 after House of Lords reform was abandoned in the face of Conservative opposition.

The failure to bring in a new parliamentary map before the May 7 vote is estimated to have cost the Tories up to 20 seats.

Committee chairman Graham Allen said: “I saw it as our job to come up with a workable alternative so the shambles of a couple of years ago is not repeated.

“My objective was to work out some common ground that a non-partisan outsider would feel was fair. I do not expect an immediate welcome from any party, given that wounds are still sore.

“However, I do ask them to look carefully at the proposals and take the time to study them rather than rush to comment. This could be swiftly implemented by an incoming parliament of any complexion so the current boundaries are reshaped as they need to be, with minimum disruption and ill will and on a sustainable formula that can be repeated in every review.

“We have teed up a second chance for the party leaders – hopefully they can do better with this opportunity.”

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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