The Government has confirmed today in a report that it is to cut the number of MPs in the House of Commons from 650 to 600. It will also press ahead with changes already announced to equalise the number of votes in each constituency.
The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee had said:
“The proposals for new parliamentary constituencies made during the 2013 Review were, as a whole, not satisfactory. This was an almost inevitable result of the new rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies brought in by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. The largest contributor to the unsatisfactory nature of the proposals was the imposition of the new statutory requirement for all but four parliamentary constituencies to have an electorate within 5% of the UK electoral quota. This new rule fundamentally changed the way in which proposals for new parliamentary constituency boundaries were devised, and severely limited the extent to which the Boundary Commissions were able to consider other factors such as continuity with previous constituencies and the reflection of local communities”.
They recommended more flexibility on constituency size saying:
“We recommend that the allowable variance for the electorate of each constituency from the UK electoral quota be increased to +/- 10%. This would better enable the Commissions to come forward with more satisfactory proposals for new parliamentary constituencies, whilst still ensuring a greater degree of equality than exists at present in terms of the number of electors in each constituency. This change would require primary legislation”.
A Government report said to the proposed flexibility in constituency size:
“These factors are subject to the overriding principle of equality in constituency size, because the government remains of the view that equality and fairness must be paramount”.
The report added:
“The Government considers it is essential that the Boundary Commissions have certainty as to the rules that will apply for the redistribution of UK Parliamentary constituencies for the next boundary review. The Government has no plans at this time to introduce legislation to make major changes to the boundary review framework. This has necessarily informed the Government’s consideration of, and response to, the Committee’s recommendations”.