Wales could lose a quarter of its MPs under plans to redraw electoral map

 Government wants to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 in time for the 2020 General Election

Wales could lose up to a quarter of its MPs and northern England could see 15 parliamentary constituencies abolished, under plans to redraw the electoral map of Britain.   

The Government wants to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 in time for the 2020 General Election, in plans that ministers say will make each constituency more equal in population. 

However, the reforms are likely to benefit the Conservative vote and Labour has accused the Government of seeking an “unfair advantage” in elections. 

Boundary Commissions for the four UK nations announced they had begun work on redrawing constituency boundaries, following the publication of new official electoral register figures. Boundary changes will be based on a mathematical formula to create constituencies of equal sizes, reflecting population changes in recent years. 

Initial proposals would see the number of Welsh MPs reduced from 40 to 29, while England will lose 33 of its 532 constituencies, 15 of them in the north, nine in the East and Midlands, and nine in London and the South.

The reforms will be carried out on the basis of December 2015 electoral register figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, which put the size of the electorate at 44,722,004. 

However, Labour protested that this figure was down by more than 600,000 on the previous year, with the decrease a result of “rushed” changes to the way voters are registered. 

Voters are now registered as individuals, rather than by household. Voters in poorer areas and students – both seen to be more likely to vote Labour – are thought to be more likely to have dropped of the register, which Labour fear could skew the electoral arithmetic in the Conservative’s favour. 

The Government claims that the falling size of the electorate is caused by a reduction in ‘ghost’ voters, who are incorrectly registered at an address, have died, or never existed in the first place. 

But Gloria de Piero, Labour’s shadow minister for voter registration, said the Government was “shamelessly taking an opportunity to redraw constituency boundaries based on an electorate that is far lower than it should be”. 

John Penrose, minister for constitutional reform, said that equalising the size of constituencies would mean “every vote will carry equal weight.”

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