The Boundary Commission proposals

Stephen Twigg - Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby and Chair of the International Development Parliamentary Select Committee, spoke to one of our recent meetings on the Boundary Commission proposals and reported.

In 2016 the Boundary Commission published its initial proposals for new parliamentary boundaries. There will be a reduction from 650 to 600 constituencies. Here in Merseyside these changes will mean that Wirral will have one less MP and the Liverpool Walton constituency will be abolished. Many concerns have been expressed about this reduction. The elected House of Commons is being reduced in size, yet the unelected House of Lords is one of the biggest legislative chambers in the world. We know that millions of eligible adults are missing from the electoral register. Analysis suggests that Labour will lose out more than the Conservatives from these proposed boundaries. The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party will also lose seats and the one Green MP, Caroline Lucas could lose her seat.

In a move to reduce the number of MPs to 600, the Conservative Government have instructed the Boundary Commission to propose new electoral boundaries. To meet this target, they will attempt to balance out the number of electors that each MP will have.

Parliament instructed the Boundary Commission to use the Electoral Register from 1st December 2015. The problem is that this register is missing millions of names.

Those people missing are more likely to be:

  • In urban areas;
  • Private renters or recent movers;
  • EU Nationals;
  • Those with learning disabilities;
  • Young people;
  • Those from poorer backgrounds.

These groups will receive less representation in Parliament. This political inequality will be weaved into the fabric of our House of Commons.

With an estimated eight million voters missing from the register, there is a strong case for using the June 2016 register. Two million people registered to vote in the EU Referendum - and they are being excluded.

The result of the June General Election, called by the Prime Minister Theresa May, and endorsed by a two thirds majority in Parliament, is that the Conservatives have lost their overall majority, with 318 MP’s as against 331 MP’s before and have now had to make a “Confidence and supply” arrangement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who have 10 MP’s.

From the information our Merseyside and West Cheshire Unlock Democracy group have had from Stephen Twigg (Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby and Chair of the International Development Parliamentary Select Committee), the Boundary Commission timetable remains on track, which means that a final set of proposals, which will probably be the same as before, will be tabled in Parliament in October 2018.  The Conservative manifesto reaffirmed their party’s commitment to reduce the number of constituencies to 600. However as the DUP are adversely affected by the Boundary Commission proposals, they are unlikely to support the Tories on these proposals, which means that there is a very strong possibility that the proposals will be defeated.

However any changes to the parliamentary boundaries will apply to the 2022 scheduled next General Election under the “Fixed Term Parliament Act”.