Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

  Thank you for your letter of 16 September 2003 regarding the coincidence of parliamentary constituency boundaries in Scotland and the consequence of change. As requested, I have outlined a response below.


  The Scottish Conservative Party is disappointed that the Government has chosen not to reduce the number of MSPs in line with the Scotland Act. These different boundaries will cause a great deal of confusion for an electorate already facing almost annual elections. We believe that the identity of the local member is seriously undermined by cross over boundaries. A constituency identity is lost and we can already see a great deal of friction caused by electorate confusion. It is vital that any system of election ensures that as far as possible the electorate are aware of whom their locally elected representative actually is. This has already proved to be a problem with the different responsibilities of both the Parliaments, and a lack of coterminous boundaries will only exacerbate this problem. However, we are exceedingly keen to have a definite timetable for the boundaries. It is counter to democracy that only the ruling party can confidently prepare for the changes.


  We are very sorry that the electorate are now to be faced with different methods of voting for each tier of Government. It seems incredible to make electing representatives an ever more complicated process when faced with falling turnouts. We feel very strongly that clarity for the electorate has also been lost thanks to Scottish Parliamentary and Local elections being held on the same day. On two occasions now, 1999 and 2003, local government issues have been swamped by the Scottish Parliamentary campaign. We therefore have very serious concerns over the impact of several different systems of election in Scotland.

October 2003

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