The independent Boundary Commissions for England and Wales today published their initial proposals to equalise the size of constituencies and reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
These changes follow legislation passed by Parliament to reform and update constituency boundaries for the House of Commons.
The proposals will be subject to an initial 12-week public consultation, followed by a further two rounds of consultation in 2017. Final recommendations will be submitted by the Commissions in autumn 2018, and presented to Parliament.
The basis and timetable for the reforms were agreed and passed by Parliament and will ensure every vote has equal worth, while at the same time reducing the cost of politics by an estimated £13 million a year.
The long-delayed Boundary Review is part of the Government’s commitment to build a democracy that works for everyone, and delivers on a Government manifesto pledge.
Regular reviews of Parliamentary boundaries have been carried out since 1944, and ensure that Parliamentary constituencies take into account changes in demographics, house building and geographical migration.
The new rules will ensure that the difference between constituency sizes is no more than 5 percentage points (apart from four specified island constituencies).
Currently, Parliamentary constituencies to be brought within the 5 percentage point range vary hugely in size - from 37,769 to 89,991 electors.
Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore said:
Our democracy and our parliamentary system need to represent everyone equally. That’s why the independent Boundary Commissions are proposing measures to achieve equal sized constituencies that will ensure an equal say for each voter. As it stands, some constituencies have twice as many electors as other constituencies and that cannot be right.
At the same time it’s important to take this opportunity to cut the cost of politics, saving £66 million over the course of a Parliament by reducing the number of MPs.
The case for these reforms was agreed by the last Parliament, and I welcome the initial proposals published by the Boundary Commissions today. These will be subject to consultation, with final recommendations submitted in autumn 2018. These will be subsequently scrutinised and debated by Parliament.
We are committed to ensuring fair and equal representation for the voting public across the UK is in place by the next general election.
Information on how to take part in the public consultation is currently available on the Boundary Commissions websites for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s initial proposals were published on 6 September. Scotland’s initial proposals will be published in October.