Political and Constitutional Reform Committee call for legislation on boundary reviews to be made a priority by the next Government in its report, published on Sunday 15 March 2015.
The report considers the new rules, as set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, for redrawing parliamentary constituency boundaries, and the experience of the 2013 Review. The 2013 Review was the first to be conducted under the new rules, although it was ultimately postponed until after the 2015 general election.
Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituiencies Act 2011 fundamentally changed the way in which reviews of parliamentary constituencies boundaries are conducted.
The new rule requiring the electorate of all but four constituencies to be within 5% of the UK average number of electors for a constituency meant that the Boundary Commissions were unable to give adequate consideration to other factors.
Although we agree that there is a case for the electorates of parliamentary constituencies to be more equal than is the case at present, the Boundary Commissions must be able to take a balanced approach to considerations—including reflecting local ties and limiting disruption to existing constituencies.
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.
We have recommended that the rules be changed—including relaxing the 5% rule and reversing the reduction of the number of parliamentary constituencies to 600—ahead of the next boundary review.
To achieve this, we have recommended that the next Government make a statement no later than June 2015 on its policy on the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies. This statement should respond to the recommendations we have set out in this report. The Government should in July 2015 publish a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny and introduce a Bill in the autumn of 2015 to receive Royal Assent by early 2016."
The Committee’s key recommendations are:
- That the allowable variance for the electorate of each constituency from the UK electoral quota be increased to +/- 10%.
- That the reduction of the number of parliamentary constituencies to 600 not go ahead.