Boundary review causes re-election battles

New constituency boundary proposals for England and Wales could lead to several prominent MPs having to face a re-election to Parliament.

In a push to cut the number of MPs in the House of Commons, constituencies are being redrawn, with the number of MPs being cut from 533 to 501 in England, from 40 to 29 in Wales, from 59 to 53 in Scotland and from 18 to 17 in Northern Ireland.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, current MP for Islington North, and former Chancellor George Osborne, MP for Tatton in Cheshire, will both see their seats abolished. The Stoke Central seat, currently held by Labour’s Tristram Hunt, Owen Smith’s Pontypridd seat and Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam seat are also being reformed.

Promising to ‘address the unfairness of the current Parliamentary boundaries’, final proposals for the reforms are due in October 2018.

The Boundary Commission for England has stated that government legislation requires it to use the December 2015 data, which has become the main argument for opposition parties, as this data does not include the nearly two million additional voters who registered ahead of June's EU referendum.

Jon Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Minister, said: "Constitutional changes should be done fairly and consensually, to ensure that everyone is given a voice. There is nothing fair about redrawing boundaries with millions left out, and reducing the number of elected MPs while the unelected House of Lords continues to grow.

"These changes are not about fairness to voters, they are about what is best for the Tory Party and they must not go ahead. The commission must rethink and ensure that no elector loses out."

The Electoral Reform Society has also opposed the plans, arguing that constituency boundaries should be drawn on the basis of population rather than an incomplete electoral register.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “Areas with the lowest levels of registration are often those that already have the least voice in politics.

“The review is being undertaken on the basis of a register that’s nearly a year out of date, excluding over two million people who signed up between December and June. That means some regions are two seats short of what they are owed. It would be much fairer to draw boundaries based on eligible population rather than an incomplete electoral register.”

Ghose also argued: "Cutting the number of MPs is the wrong priority. We have a growing unelected House and a shrinking elected one. The House of Lords is a super-sized second chamber – second only to China – and shockingly poor value for money. Surely it would be more democratic to address the crisis in the House of Lords than to cut the number of elected MPs.

"If you reduce the number of MPs in Parliament without reducing the number of ministers, you increase the power of the executive and make it more difficult to challenge the government. That will reduce the ability for Parliament to do its job of holding the Government to account.”

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