Boundary Review rules reveal timetable for constituency change

Written by @Tom_Smithard on 29 March 2016 in Diary

The timetable to decide new Westminster constituency boundaries was released today – as were details on rules that might have a major effect on what seats will look like at the next election.

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) placed new guidance on its website today, revealed in the minutes of a briefing to political parties.

A first draft of new boundaries will be released in September this year, heralding a 12-week consultation. A second draft will be released in October 2017, ahead of an eight-week consultation. The final plans will be published a year later in September 2018 and will then go before parliament.

While other Boundary Commissions – in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – will run separate reviews, the four have agreed to harmonise timetabling where possible and all will be presented to parliament together.

The BCE said it would produce “significant” cost savings in the current review by focusing on digital and limiting printed copies of material. The last review, between 2011 and 2013, was aborted by the Liberal Democrats after the Conservatives failed to support House of Lords reform.

But rules set then remain in place, with the Commons to be reduced by 50 seats to 600, each with an electorate of between 71,031 and 78,507 – bar four exceptions.

Today’s memo does outline one change: the BCE will this time be prepared to use smaller blocks of electors when drawing up its plans. The guidance states:

“The BCE was very conscious of the criticism generated from the last review, when it had a very restrictive approach to splitting of wards. It therefore proposed to be more open to the possibility of ward splitting at this review, although wards would remain the default building block of constituencies, and whole wards would be used as very much the ideal.”

Photo: Stefan Rousseau / PA Archive / Press Association Images

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