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.