Leading article: A simple matter of democratic principle

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Notwithstanding the cries of "gerrymander" and accusations that the Boundary Commission is riding roughshod over time-honoured communities, the proposal to cut 50 MPs deserves support.

At the simplest level, it is a matter of equity. Under the plans currently causing consternation in the House of Commons, all constituencies will have a broadly similar population of between 73,000 and 80,000 voters. This is not just mathematical orderliness. Giving each individual ballot an equal weight – and thus each MP an equal representative value – embodies the central democratic principle of one person, one vote.

More prosaic, but also welcome, is the financial benefit. The Government estimates that a Parliament of 600, rather than 650 MPs will cost the public purse £12m less each year – a saving worth making in an age of austerity not expected to be over by the time the measures take effect in 2015. Better yet, with only 77 constituencies untouched by the proposals, MPs will be forced to drag their attention away from the parliamentary Whips and to focus instead on the priorities of their voters. That the changes will also unsettle some big political beasts, the Chancellor included, can only add to the case in favour.

The consultation giving MPs a chance to fight their corners will, no doubt, be a rowdy affair. But although there are some genuinely exceptional cases – such as the unique geography of the Isle of Wight – most of the special pleading should be ignored. Fewer MPs is a good thing.

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