Plan to change election boundaries is 'too radical,' say MPs

The changes were originally due to come into force before the general election in May, but have now been delayed

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New rules which would dramatically change the number and size of the UK’s political constituencies are too radical and must be reconsidered before any boundaries can be redrawn, according to a report published today.

In 2011, it was decided that the number of MPs in Westminster should be reduced from 650 to 600 and the size of the electorate in almost every constituency should be within 5 per cent of the UK average, in an attempt to make elections fairer. But MPs on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee concluded that both changes went too far.

The changes were originally due to come into force before the general election in May, but the legislation was subsequently amended and the process delayed, meaning that the redrawing of the boundaries cannot take place until the next government is in power.

 

While both Nick Clegg and David Cameron have spoken about their desire to “cut the cost of politics” by reducing the number of Westminster MPs, the committee said there was no “compelling reason” to do so.

The next government should make a statement in June on the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies before any boundary review can take place, it added.

“Although we agree that there is a case for the electorates of parliamentary constituencies to be more equal than at present, the Boundary Commissions must be able to take a balanced approach to various considerations – including limiting disruption to existing constituencies,” said Labour MP Graham Allen, the chair of the committee.

“If no action is taken, the next boundary review will commence in early 2016. Unless the rules for distributing parliamentary constituencies are changed before then, it is likely that a further set of unsatisfactory proposals will be brought forward.”

Had the number of MPs been reduced from 650 to 600 when the changes were first mooted, electoral analysts have suggested that the Conservatives would have benefited, potentially securing as many as 20 extra seats at May’s general election.

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