What next on the redrawing of parliamentary constituency boundaries? - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents


4  Options for change

22. We have considered a number of changes which could be made to the way in which reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries are conducted. We have focused on those changes which would better enable the Boundary Commissions to devise new parliamentary constituencies which are acceptable to all involved, but have also considered a number of other proposals which have been put to us. The main areas which we have considered are:

·  Changing the allowable variance of a constituency's electorate from the electoral quota;

·  Reducing the frequency of, and increasing the timeframe for, boundary reviews;

·  Reconsidering changes to the number of parliamentary constituencies;

·  The possibility of distributing constituencies on the basis of population rather than electorate;

·  Improving the process for public consultation; and

·  Reviewing how local government boundaries are taken into account by Boundary Commissions when devising parliamentary constituency boundaries.

Some of these issues—such as certain improvements to the public consultation process and changes to the way Boundary Commissions take into account local government boundaries—are ones which can be taken forward by the Boundary Commissions on their own initiative. Others—such as changing the allowable variance from the electoral quota or the number of parliamentary constituencies to be proposed—would require primary legislation.

23. Given that the main contributor to the unsatisfactory nature of many of the parliamentary constituencies proposed during the 2013 Review was the strict rule on the allowable variance from the electoral quota (the 5% rule), this is the issue we consider in most detail, and on which we make our key recommendations.

The electoral quota

24. The "electoral quota" is the average size of a constituency, in terms of the number of electors registered to vote. The electoral quota for the UK is calculated by dividing the total number of registered voters by the number of parliamentary constituencies. We consider below the extent to which parliamentary constituencies as they exist currently vary from the electoral quota, the new rules relating to the electoral quota which were brought in by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the impact the new rules had on the 2013 Review, and possible changes to the new requirement that the electorate of all but four constituencies be within +/- 5% of the electoral quota.

VARIANCE IN THE SIZE OF PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES

25. The number of registered electors in each parliamentary constituency currently varies significantly. At the 2010 general election the smallest constituency had 21,837 electors (Na h-Eileanan an Iar, in Scotland), and the largest 110,924 electors (the Isle of Wight, in England). It should be noted that, under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, special rules would have applied to both of these constituencies for the purpose of future boundary reviews. The smallest and largest constituencies, in 2010, which were not subject to special rules under the 2011 Act had electorates of 40,707 (Arfon, in Wales), and 91,531 (East Ham, in London), respectively.

26. Prior to the 2011 Act, the rules governing the distribution of parliamentary constituencies stated that the electorate of a constituency "shall be as near the electoral quota [the average size of a constituency] as is practicable", but there was no set limit. One point made in the course of our inquiry was that the Council of Europe's European Commission for Democracy through Law (or Venice Commission) had stated that "permissible departure from the norm should not be more than 10%, and should certainly not exceed 15% except in special circumstances".[36] The table below shows how many UK constituencies were, in 2010, within +/- 5 or 10% of the average constituency size.

Number of parliamentary constituencies within +/- 5 or 10% of the UK electoral quota
UK EnglandScotland WalesNorthern Ireland
Number of constituencies 650533 5940 18
Within 10%463 (71.2%) 407 (76.4%)41 (69.5%) 4 (10.0%)11 (61.1%)
Within 5%254 (39.1%) 236 (44.3%)13 (22.0%) 2 (5.0%)3 (16.7%)

Source: Electoral statistics for UK, 2010, ONS

27. The distribution of constituencies to the four parts of the UK is also somewhat uneven. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have more constituencies than they would be allocated if the number of constituencies in each part of the UK were strictly in proportion to the size of the electorate for that part. Prior to 2011 there was no set limit on the total number of constituencies for the UK, although there were not to be "substantially greater or less than 613" constituencies in Great Britain, with a minimum of 71 for Scotland and 35 for Wales, and a range of 16-18 for Northern Ireland.

28. A number of arguments have been made for reducing the current variance in the size of the electorate between constituencies. The main arguments are:

·  It would reduce the disparity in the relative strength of an individual vote and number of votes required to elect an MP (although the electoral system and contestability of the seat are also relevant).

·  It would mean each MP would be representing a similar number of constituents (although this assumes that the number of registered voters is similar to the population of a constituency).

We have also been told that having a strict mathematical rule for the allowable electorate of a constituency makes reviews administratively easier, as there is a clear rule for whether or not proposals are allowable.[37] That said, we also heard that having such a rule meant there was an extra stage to the review process.[38]

29. One argument made during our inquiry was that if the aim of reducing inequalities of the size of constituencies were to make each vote "of more equal value",[39] to use the words of the Minister for the Constitution, Sam Gyimah MP, equalising the size of constituencies was only one side of this requirement, and consideration should also be given to electoral reform.[40] This is a point we also made when the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill was going through Parliament.[41]

30. The Minister told us that the current level of variance of constituency electorates from the UK electoral quota was "a concern of the Government", and that "the PVSC Act was passed in 2011 in order to address this situation".[42] Simon James, Deputy Director of the Elections Division at the Cabinet Office, expanded on this, telling us:

    In bringing forward the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which became the Act in 2011, the Government did recognise that equality was a principle that should be enshrined in legislation. As a result of that Act and the review, had the 2013 review completed then with the four exceptions, which I am sure you are familiar with, saving those four exceptions every constituency would have been within plus or minus 5%.[43]

The Minister also told us that "We [the Government] believe that seats should be of more equal size so that votes are of more equal value."[44]

31. We note that the number of registered electors currently varies significantly between constituencies. We believe that, all other things being equal, constituency electorates should be broadly equal. Reducing the variance in the number of electors from one constituency to another should be one of the functions of the boundary review process.

IMPACT OF THE 5% RULE

32. As we noted above, we have heard that the requirement for constituencies to be within 5% of the electoral quota, as set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, was the main cause of the level of disruption that would have resulted from giving effect to the new constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commissions during the 2013 Review. The rule would also be likely to result in significant disruption to the distribution of parliamentary constituencies at each future boundary review.

33. Several witnesses highlighted the fact that the stricter the allowable variance from the electoral quota, the less one was able to take into account other factors. Tony Bellringer, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, told us:

    the smaller you make the tolerance level from the actual quota, the harder it becomes to take into account properly the other factors that are mentioned in the Act, such as not breaking local ties, respecting local authority boundaries, and minimising change.[45]

He told us that as a consequence of the 5% rule the Commission "quite often had to decide to set those other factors aside because the only mandatory one, as far as England was concerned, was the numerical one." Hugh Buchanan, former Secretary to the Boundary Commission for Scotland, took a similar view, stating that "With the 2011 Act, Parliament emphasised the parity way over and above the other [considerations]." He told us that "Historically, there has been a more balanced approach" to the various considerations, and that it was for Parliament to decide how it wanted to address the balance in the future.[46] Steve Halsall, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for Wales, told us:

    In Wales, the impact of the 5% was substantial, particularly in conjunction with the application of a UK electoral quota that reduced the number of MPs in Wales from 40 to 30. Because there was such a range of electorates in the constituencies in Wales, going from about 40,000 to 77,000—those were the existing numbers—getting it within that 5%, as well as having the reduction, meant that a substantial change was required in Wales.[47]

34. Research by Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie has indicated that the disruption caused by the 5% rule would not be limited to the first occasion on which parliamentary constituencies were changed in accordance with the new rules, but that every subsequent five-yearly review was likely to result in major changes to around a third of constituencies, and minor changes to around another third.[48] This cyclical disruption would result from a combination of reallocation of constituencies among the four countries, demographic change, and re-warding undertaken by local authorities. Simon James, Deputy Director of the Elections Division at the Cabinet Office, told us that "the level of change that there will be over five years remains to be seen."[49]

CHANGING THE ALLOWABLE VARIANCE FROM THE QUOTA

35. We have received a significant amount of evidence arguing that the number of electors in a parliamentary constituency should be able to vary from the electoral quota by more than 5%.[50] Those arguing in favour of a more lenient rule did so on the basis that this would enable the Boundary Commissions to take greater account of other factors such as continuity with existing constituency boundaries and local community ties. Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie conducted a substantial piece of research looking at the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies. They concluded that relaxing the requirement for equality in terms of the size of the electorate from +/- 5% of the electoral quota to +/- 8 or 10% would mean that major problems devising constituency boundaries would only arise in in a small number of places, rather than one third to one half of constituencies, as under the 5% rule.[51] Their research indicated that if the allowable variance was increased to +/- 8% this would more than halve the number of cases where there were serious problems with proposing feasible constituencies, and if the allowable variance was increased to +/- 10% it would be possible to propose feasible constituencies in "nearly every area". Professor Ron Johnston told us:

    Quite simply, with 8% you would create a few problems around, which a little bit of ward-splitting would then resolve. It is just that 5% was very tight.[52]

Political analyst Lewis Baston agreed with the recommendations made by Professor Ron Johnston and colleagues, telling us:

    I was convinced […] that the number of cross-border constituencies that straddle county boundaries would be greatly reduced if one was to move to a tolerance of 10%. I would be in favour in general of it as allowing the commissions more room to achieve some of the other desirable objects of their mission to try not to cross local authority boundaries, keep communities together, keep continuity, all the familiar arguments.[53]

36. In terms of the level of variation in the registered electorate of constituencies that would be allowed under an 8 or 10% rule, as compared to a 5% rule, the table below details the minimum and maximum number of electors that would be allowed per constituency under different rules. These figures are based on the size of the electorate (45,678,175) and electoral quota (76,641) used for the 2013 Review. They are also based on there being 600 parliamentary constituencies (596 of which would be subject to this rule).

Allowable constituency electorates under different rules on the distribution of parliamentary constituencies
+/- 5% +/- 8%+/- 10%
Minimum constituency size 72,81070,510 68,977
Maximum constituency size 80,47382,772 84,305
Allowable difference 7,66312,262 15,328


New parliamentary constituencies devised in line with any of these ranges would be more equal, in terms of the number of registered electors, than current constituencies.

37. We have also received evidence arguing against a more lenient rule regarding the allowable electorate for each constituency.[54] The Conservative Party told us:

    We believe that constituency boundaries should be within 5% of quota which allows a 10% margin which we believe is more than sufficient so that the important principle of equal votes of equal value is maintained. This sets an important Rule within which the Commissions can operate and unlike the previous Rules where it was unclear what Rule had precedence the Rules are clear and concise.[55]

Similarly, Manchester City Council told us: "As a fundamental democratic principle, each MP should carry an equal weight of representation of parliament insofar as this can be achieved. The 5% threshold allows for the Commission to balance equal representation with those other factors detailed in the 2011 Act."[56] The Conservative Party went so far as to say that "if it [the 5% rule] was to change we would support a lower tolerance as we believe anything above 5% giving a 10% margin to be too high".[57]

38. Although the representatives of the Boundary Commissions accepted that the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies were a matter for Parliament, several of them indicated that a greater degree of leniency or discretion in this area might be desirable. Dr William Smith told us:

    The main change I would have been looking for as a commissioner would be a relaxation in the mathematical range from the quota, and some discretion being allowed to the conditions to balance the principles of continuity, organic nature and equality. So, we would perhaps aim for 10% below to 10% above, but have the discretion to move a little bit more than that, if it was required by the strength of local ties or the feeling that we got from respondents about local ties, community and continuity.[58]

And Tony Bellringer told us:

    I hesitate to go near the 5% figure, because I know that there is a lot of politics around it, but you might consider, rather than necessarily setting a completely different figure, just giving us a bit more discretion to say that we might go x% beyond the normal in exceptional cases.[59]

Mr Bellringer also told us that if the 5% figure were increased to 10% this would "have been more like the way it was in the old days when we had a bit more flexibility in how we designed the constituency."[60] The lessons learned document the Boundary Commission for England produced following the closure of the 2013 Review recommended that the appropriateness of 5% as the mandatory electorate tolerance figure be reviewed. To date this Committee is the only body within Parliament or Government to have examined the issue formally.

39. Ministers have given us different views on changing the 5% rule. In January 2015 the Minister for the Constitution, Sam Gyimah MP, told us:

    The Government consider that setting the tolerance level at 5% would restore equality and fairness in the setting of constituency boundaries while also giving scope for other factors: physical geography and local ties. The view is very much that to go beyond the 5% tolerance level of the electoral quota might move too far away from what we set out to achieve, which is to give everyone's vote more equal weight. There are, therefore, no plans to change that tolerance level.[61]

However, when we heard from the Deputy Prime Minister in September 2014, he told us:

    my understanding of the central proposals was that quite a lot of the misgivings under the existing provisions […] could be solved or could be alleviated by, first, allowing for the splitting of wards […] and, secondly, by expanding this margin of error either side of the magic 60,000 figure by—I think they said—8% or 9% rather than 5%. I think that is the kind of pragmatic sensible approach.

He also told us:

    I think it is important that we look at ways of making sure that we do not just end up with a repeat of all of the controversy of last time, but also in a pragmatic spirit seek to deliver boundary reviews—boundary reviews must happen—in a way that does not lead to irrational decisions in that communities are needlessly split up when there is no reason other than the mathematical rigidity of the current formula determining that they should be split up in that way.[62]

40. The primary reason for the unsatisfactory nature of the proposals brought forward during the 2013 review of parliamentary constituency boundaries was the strict arithmetic rule regarding the electorates of all but four constituencies—that they be within +/- 5% of the average constituency size of the UK. That said, we have noted the current wide variation in the number of registered electors from constituency to constituency, and concluded that it would be desirable for that to be reduced. The evidence we have received is that increasing the allowable variance to +/- 10% would, in the vast majority of cases, alleviate the challenges experienced during the 2013 Review. We recommend that the allowable variance for the electorate of each constituency from the UK electoral quota be increased to +/- 10%. This would better enable the Commissions to come forward with more satisfactory proposals for new parliamentary constituencies, whilst still ensuring a greater degree of equality than exists at present in terms of the number of electors in each constituency. This change would require primary legislation.

ELECTORAL QUOTAS FOR PARTS OF THE UK

41. Under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 each part of the UK is allocated a whole number of constituencies by reference to the UK electoral quota and the electorate for that part of the UK. This means that the average size of a constituency for each part of the UK is likely to be somewhat different from the average size of a constituency across the whole of the UK—the figure which determines the electoral quota. This difference is likely to be greatest for those parts of the UK which are allocated fewest constituencies. For example, the average size of the 16 parliamentary constituencies allocated to Northern Ireland for the 2013 Review was over 2,000 electors smaller than the UK electoral quota.

42. The 2011 Act makes special provisions for the distribution of constituencies in Northern Ireland if the electorate of Northern Ireland varies by a certain amount from the electoral quota and the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland considers that this "unreasonably impair[s]" its ability to take into account other factors. Where these two criteria are met the electorate of parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland is allowed to vary from the UK electoral quota by greater than +/- 5%, according to a formula set out in the 2011 Act. The Minister told us: "There is a specific issue with Northern Ireland about giving them flexibility but it will not result in over-representation in terms of number of seats. That is why we have been able to allow that degree of flexibility for Northern Ireland."[63] The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland told us that it felt that, for the 2013 Review, using the longer range would have "produced a somewhat better overall architecture" but it deemed that the criteria set out in the legislation were not met and so restricted itself to the tighter range. The Commission suggested that it might be preferable to "specify that the electorate in any constituency has to be within a certain percentage of the average for that part of the UK", instead of retaining the current exemption in relation to Northern Ireland.[64] The Boundary Commission for Scotland also told us that "it would be preferable to specify that the electorate in a constituency has to be within a certain percentage of the average constituency electorate for that part of the UK."[65]

43. Requiring the electorate of each constituency to be within 5% of the electoral quota of that part of the UK—rather than for the whole of the UK—would enable the Boundary Commissions to use the full +/- 5% range. Such "local electoral quotas" may be an acceptable compromise to any Government which does not accept our recommendation that a higher tolerance should be implemented. We recommend that, if the +/- 5% rule is not relaxed, that Boundary Commissions be required to propose constituencies with an electorate within +/- 5% of the electoral quota for the part of the UK for which that Commission is responsible, rather than the overall UK electoral quota. This change would require primary legislation.

Taking account of local government boundaries

44. Under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 the Boundary Commissions may, but are not required to, take into account local government boundaries during the boundary review process. Historically, local wards have been used by Boundary Commissions as the building blocks for parliamentary constituencies, as they are easily identifiable areas for which the electorate is already known. However, as a result of changes to local wards—particularly in Scotland where multi-member wards came into effect in 2007—and the new requirement for constituencies to be within +/- 5% of the electoral quota, a more open approach to proposing parliamentary constituencies which crossed local ward boundaries was taken by Commissions during the 2013 Review. The approaches taken were:

·  Boundary Commission for England: Sought to avoid dividing wards between constituencies wherever possible, stating that in the absence of exceptional and compelling circumstances it would not be appropriate to divide wards in cases where it was possible to construct constituencies that meet the statutory electorate range without dividing them.[66]

·  Boundary Commission for Scotland: Took account of ward boundaries but proceeded on the basis that it would not be able to keep every ward in a single constituency.[67]

·  Boundary Commission for Wales: Sought to avoid dividing electoral divisions between constituencies but noted that there were likely to be circumstances in which it would be desirable to do so.[68]

·  Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland: Used local government wards as the building blocks of new constituencies and avoided, so far as practicable, splitting them between constituencies.[69]

45. Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie were particularly critical of the Boundary Commission for England's approach, and have argued that a greater openness to splitting local wards between parliamentary constituencies would have resolved several problems during the 2013 Review.[70] Greater openness on the part of Boundary Commissions to splitting wards was welcomed in some of our evidence, with those in favour arguing that it would help avoid some disruption to existing constituencies and reduce the extent to which constituencies crossed major local authority boundaries.[71] The London Borough of Lambeth told us that splitting wards between constituencies should only occur when "ward boundaries do not represent traditional community boundaries", but should not be considered "purely to keep to a mathematical formula".[72] Other evidence objected to splitting wards, as this could divide communities between constituencies, and create administrative issues at elections.[73] Tony Bellringer told us that it would have been desirable for the Boundary Commission for England to have been more open to the possibility of splitting wards, and this was something it intended to be more open to in the future. Mr Bellringer told us: "although a strong case will still be required for us to be agreeable to splitting a ward, it will be a lower bar than it has been in the past."[74]

46. Although local government wards are a perfectly sensible starting point for building parliamentary constituencies, the constraints created by the new rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies mean that Boundary Commissions cannot afford to bind themselves unnecessarily. We welcome the statement from the Boundary Commission for England that it will be more open to the possibility of splitting wards in the future. This should serve to minimise any unnecessary disruption resulting from the boundary review process, and allow for greater account to be taken of substantive community boundaries.

Public consultation

47. Boundary Commissions are required to publicise and consult on their proposals for the redistribution of parliamentary constituencies. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 established the following procedure for public consultation on proposed parliamentary constituencies:

·  An initial consultation period: 12 weeks during which written representations can be made and public hearings are held in relation to the Commissions' initial proposals.

·  A secondary consultation period: A further four week period where additional written representations can be made once representations from the initial period have been published.

·  Consultation on revised proposals: If a Boundary Commission revises its proposals there is a further eight week consultation period where written representations can be made to the Commission.[75]

This process is a substantial change from the previous arrangements for consultation, where the Boundary Commissions held local inquiries in respect of proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries.

CONSULTATION DURING THE 2013 REVIEW

48. The 2013 Review was the first occasion the new rules for public consultation on Boundary Commission proposals were used, and this experience has highlighted a number of areas where changes might be desirable. The Boundary Commissions received a significant volume of representations about their proposals for new parliamentary constituency boundaries; tens of thousands of written representations were submitted and over 1,000 people made oral representations at dozens of public hearings which were held across the UK.[76]

49. The evidence we received from the Boundary Commissions was that the public consultation process was useful and helpfully informed the process of revising proposals for new constituencies. For example, Dr Smith from the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland told us that "public consultation was very useful in that we amended our original proposals in the light of things that people had written to us".[77]

Public hearings

50. We have been told that the public hearings that formed part of the process for public consultation were of limited value, and that arrangements for them should be changed. Tony Bellringer told us that the Boundary Commission for England had "quite a few hearings that were probably a waste of time", giving an example of one hearing in Sheffield where four people turned up over two days.[78] Dr Smith told us that "the public oral hearings did not add anything to what we had received already in written representations in terms of the impact that they made on our revised recommendations."[79] Steve Halsall told us that in Wales there "were not the levels of representations and the numbers that we had anticipated" and "the numbers turning up to the public hearings were a lot less than we had thought." That said, Mr Halsall told us that cross-questioning by assistant commissioners at the public hearings "teased out additional information that then fed into our revised proposals, so some benefit came out of that."[80] Tony Bellringer also told us about a public hearing in Birmingham where they had "lots of people turning up and lots of contested evidence", and the hearing led to a change in the Commission's recommendations. Mr Bellringer told us "I would be loth to get rid of [public hearings] altogether, but that is not to say that there are not alternative or additional ways that we could get at people."[81]

51. One specific issue that was raised with us was the timing of the public hearings. These had to be held during the initial 12-week consultation period, and we have been told that this limited their usefulness. Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie stated that "abolition of Public Hearings and a procedure comprising written representations alone would be both more efficient than, and at least as effective as, that introduced late to the 2011 legislation." Professor Ron Johnston expanded on the flaws with the arrangements for public hearings, stating:

    I think one of the biggest problems with the thing that was introduced was that the hearings were held during the period in which written representations were going in, which made for immense complications. […] I think the more general argument though is that just like the inquiries beforehand, these hearings were dominated by the political parties.[82]

52. Tony Bellringer told us that if public hearings were going to be part of the process, these should not be held at the same time as the initial consultation period, as "that did not work very well in the last review". He told us:

    Having the ability to choose ourselves where to hold public hearings after we have had the initial consultation period, and probably after the secondary consultation period, means we will have seen where the debates really lie, and then we can get best value out of where we go, if you are having public hearings at all.[83]

Dr William Smith agreed that if there were going to be public hearings, these should be "at the end of [the] written consultation phase",[84] and Steve Halsall also said "it would be better to have the public hearings after the representations period".[85] Hugh Buchanan told us that the consultation was "invaluable" but that the public hearings "were of questionable value."[86] He went on to say:

    I think that we all had a similar experience: the content of the hearings was very patchy for a variety of reasons. Partly that was due to the timing, which was during a consultation period […]. The constraint on the duration of the hearings meant that the opportunity to test the evidence being presented was limited. Those two factors in combination meant that what we learned from the hearings was generally quite limited. However, the consultation process was invaluable. You referred earlier to local knowledge, and the only way we could plug into that local knowledge was through the consultation process. That was why the revised proposals from each of the commissions were much better received that the initial proposals that we had made.[87]

53. The Minister for the Constitution highlighted public hearings as an option available to the public to "lobby and make the case where they feel geographical location or local ties are particularly important".[88] Simon James told us that the public hearings under the new rules had been much more accessible to members of the public than the inquiries which took place under previous rules.[89]

54. The public consultation process is an essential part of the boundary review process, and holding hearings where members of the public and other interested parties can make oral representations is a valuable part of this process. That said, the Boundary Commissions were united in their view that public hearings would be more useful if they took place after written representations had been received, rather than during the initial consultation period. We recommend that the Boundary Commissions continue to be required to hold public hearings on their recommendations before reporting to the Secretary of State, but that these hearings should not be required to take place during the initial consultation period. This change would require primary legislation.

MODERNISING THE CONSULTATION

55. We have heard that there are several ways in which the public might engage more effectively with the boundary review process, particularly given new technologies. Tony Bellringer told us that "there are certainly ways that we can explore different methods of getting at people other than just the old style of the formal public hearing."[90] Dr Smith also said that it would be helpful to look at how "social media and the internet [could be used] as a means of consultation".[91] The Boundary Commission for England followed up on its oral evidence to us with a written submission that stated:

    the BCE intends to make greater use of online interactivity-via its website-at future reviews. Following successful approaches adopted by the Boundary Commission for Scotland and the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, functionality should include more interactive mapping viewable online.

    […]

    More generally, the BCE is always keen to explore new ideas for how it can effectively and efficiently engage the public in its consultation process. Use of modern social media channels to promote awareness of - and engagement with - our consultations was used for the first time in the 2013 Review, and we expect to build on that in future Reviews. The use of online forums-as suggested by colleagues in the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland-is one avenue that we will be interested to explore further before the next Review.[92]

56. One of the suggestions made was that mapping tools be made available to the public, to enable them to design potential constituencies and submit these to the Boundary Commissions.[93] Dr Micah Altman, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr Michael McDonald, from the University of Florida, have developed open source online software which has been used in six US states and five localities to enable the public to participate in the process of map drawing, and suggested that it would be possible for the UK Boundary Commissions to look at similar innovations.[94] The Oxford Internet Institute recommended the development of a web tool which members of the public could use to find out how they would be affected by proposed changes to constituency boundaries.[95] The Institute stated that this tool could be presented as both a website and an app, which could also be used to collect consultation responses relevant to particular constituencies, and to enable users to submit comments. The Institute stated that the tool could be promoted via social media and local authority websites to increase the number of responses Boundary Commissions received.

57. There is clearly scope for future reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries to involve a more modern system of public consultation. We welcome the statements by several of the Boundary Commissions that they will be looking at improving how they consult with the public at future boundary reviews. We recommend that all Boundary Commissions consider, before the commencement of the next boundary review, how they can use new technologies to better engage with the public and better facilitate the public to contribute to the boundary review process. Options should include promoting the public consultation on proposed constituencies online via social media, making online mapping tools available to those wishing to contribute to the consultation process and the use of online forums. We hope that the evidence we have received in this area will be helpful to the Boundary Commissions in taking this work forward.

Frequency and timeframe of reviews

58. Prior to 2011 the Boundary Commissions were required to report every eight to 12 years. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 provided for the first review under the new rules to report by 1 October 2013, with subsequent reviews to report "every fifth year after that". This synchronised the frequency of reviews with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which provided for the next general election to take place on 7 May 2015, with subsequent elections on the first Thursday in May every five years thereafter.

59. We have received some evidence arguing that boundary reviews should take place on a 10-yearly, rather than five-yearly, cycle.[96] Tony Bellringer told us:

    I think the English commission would like to have a longer period of time between reviews. If you were to do 10-yearly reviews rather than five-yearly ones, we could go back to the system that we had in the past under which we reviewed the whole of England on a rolling basis. Rather than trying to do it all in one go, which almost broke us administratively last time, we could actually progress round the country. We would still use the electorate data, and the wards and local authority boundaries as they were fixed at a particular point in time, which would be the same for every region, but we would just do one region at a time. We would be able to do that quite sensibly within a ten-year time scale.[97]

60. In terms of the timeframe during which boundary reviews have to be conducted, Tony Bellringer told us "the overall impression of the [2013 review] was that it was a bit rushed", as the relevant legislation setting out the rules for the review had been given Royal Assent just one month before the review had to start.[98] He also stated that the timetable for the review itself—as set out in the legislation—was challenging for England, telling us: "because the size of the task administratively in England is so much bigger, it was difficult to deliver in the time frame allowed." Comparing the timeframe of the 2013 review with the previous review, he told us:

    The fifth review started in 2000, and reported at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007; it took six years minimum to go around England and deliver a report. With the 2013 review, we had to do the whole job in just over two years.[99]

He suggested that if reviews were every 10 years it would be possible to go back to a system of reviewing constituencies in England on a rolling basis rather than "trying to do it all in one go".[100] Mr Bellringer told us that time was the crucial issue in terms of resources, and that this could not simply be solved by increasing staff or funding.[101] In terms of the next boundary review, Hugh Buchanan told us that there would be a "tight" timetable, and Tony Bellringer told us that "we would probably say it was not enough time for the English commission."[102] He stated that the previous review of English parliamentary constituencies took six or seven years, and that it "is arguably a more difficult task now, with the new rules."[103] Professor Ron Johnston also told us that in a large part the problems experienced in England during the 2013 Review resulted from the Boundary Commission for England having to "do the whole country in six months".[104]

61. The Minister for the Constitution told us:

    The Government's position is that currently we have a situation where reviews are every eight to 12 years. The rationale for moving down to five years is to ensure that boundaries are consistent with changes in the local population. To move from the five years in the Act would be to move from the principle that underpins the legislation, which is that you want boundaries to be equal and you want them to reflect changes in population.[105]

Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie told us that "Decadal reviews should be sufficient to ensure reasonable equality of representation in each Parliament."[106]

62. A further suggestion was that the allocation of constituencies to each part of the UK apply for longer than five years, even if reviews of the boundaries within each part of the UK occurred on a five-yearly basis, to prevent significant disruption to both parliamentary constituencies and also any adverse consequences for the constituencies of devolved assemblies. Hugh Buchanan told us that "the five-yearly revisiting of the number of constituencies in each part of the UK is very disruptive." He stated:

    When you look at the data since we did the sixth review, a year later the numbers would have been the same. Two years later, England would have gained a seat and Wales would have lost one. The following year England would have lost one and Scotland would have gained one. There is a high frequency of churn and I think that is going to be quite disruptive. It means that when you come to redesign constituencies in a part of the UK or a region of England, you are starting afresh, because you have a specific numerical limit and a different numerical solution to the number of constituencies, so you have to start again.[107]

63. Dr William Smith, from the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, told us he agreed with "the desirability of not reallocating seats among the four countries and regions every five years."[108] In terms of an alternative to re-allocating constituencies to each part of the UK every review, the Boundary Commission for Scotland told us:

    An alternative would be to specify that the allocation of seats between parts of the United Kingdom is done every 20 years (for example) with reviews within that longer period reviewing boundaries for each part of the United Kingdom without altering the number of MPs allocated to that part.[109]

Professor Johnston told us that this approach would result in variations in the average size of constituencies between the four parts of the UK, but that he thought "they would not become particularly great unless suddenly the population of Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales either boomed or collapsed."[110]

64. There are strong arguments for holding boundary reviews every five years. There are also strong reasons for holding them every 10 years. This is a matter we bring to the attention of the next Government.

The number of MPs

65. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 made provision to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600. Although the provision is yet to come into effect, unless changes are made by primary legislation, future boundary reviews will be conducted on the basis of 600 parliamentary constituencies. The reasons given by the Government for reducing the number of MPs to 600 were to reduce costs of the House of Commons, and to bring the number of MPs in line with that of the Parliaments of similar sized legislatures around the world.[111] The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 provided for a review of the reduction in the number of parliamentary constituencies to be conducted and the findings published between June and September 2015. Following the postponement of the next boundary review, the dates of this review and report were amended to between June and September 2020.

66. We received a range of views on the ideal number of parliamentary constituencies. Some favoured reducing the number of MPs to 600 (or even lower),[112] other favoured retaining 650,[113] one submission stated that there was no real justification for reducing the number to 600,[114] and others argued that there should be no preconception about the final number of MPs.[115] Democratic Audit undertook work in 2010 and 2011 looking at the implications of the new rules for boundary reviews, and questioned the rationale for reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600.[116] We also heard that there were alternative ways of reducing the number of MPs without fixing the figure at 600. These could be to reintroduce the previous rules around the number of constituencies but reduce the entitlements to the four parts of the UK, or to set a maximum limit on the number of MPs.[117] Either of these options could create a downward pressure on the number of MPs without reducing the figure by 50 at a single stroke, although having a range for the number of MPs would complicate any rules around the electoral quota.

67. In terms of the ability of the Boundary Commissions to bring forward satisfactory proposals for new parliamentary constituencies, Professor Ron Johnston told us that the number of constituencies:

    makes very little difference indeed. In all of this debate, that is the red herring; the size of the House is not an important factor in the degree of disruption or fitting into local government boundaries. The Boundary Commission was not making all of these changes because it was going to 600 seats; the Boundary Commissions were making these changes because they were fitting into a 5% tolerance.[118]

68. That said, the number of MPs—and thus the number of parliamentary constituencies—for the UK has a direct bearing on the electoral quota for the UK. The higher the number of MPs, the smaller the electoral quota, and, where a percentage limit on variance of constituency electorates from the electoral quota is set, the smaller the allowable variance between the smallest and largest constituencies.[119] Steve Halsall told us that the Boundary Commissions did not have a "particular view" about the number of MPs there should be, but did tell us:

    we need to point out that should the number be higher than the 600 in the rules as they stand at the moment, something needs to be done about the tolerance level. They need to be hand in hand, because a larger number of MPs means that each constituency has a smaller number of electors and so the tolerance is a smaller number, and it would be more difficult to work with 5% on that.[120]

69. The Minister for the Constitution told us that one way to consider this question was to compare the number of people on the electoral register with similar figures for comparable democracies, stating that "A strong case could be made that on that basis in the UK we are over-represented in the Commons".[121] On this point, the Deputy Prime Minister told the House, when the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill was introduced, that "The House of Commons is the largest directly elected Chamber in the European Union, and it is half as big again as the US House of Representatives."[122] That said, we noted in our report on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that the House of Commons, at 650 Members, is not much larger than the German Bundestag (622), the Italian Chamber of Deputies (630) or the French National Assembly (577).[123]

70. We have previously noted that although there may be a case for reducing the number of Members of Parliament to 600, the Government did not make it before introducing legislation to implement the change. We have received a wide range of views on what the "correct" number of MPs might be, but the case for reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 has still not been made. We recommend that, in the absence of any compelling reason for reducing the number of MPs and the complete absence of any consultation on or research into the impact of such a reduction, legislation be introduced to reverse the reduction to the number of MPs provided for by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011.

71. If it was found to be desirable to reduce the number of MPs, it should not be assumed that the only way of achieving this is to set a fixed number of 600. It would be possible to set a ceiling on the number of MPs so that the figure did not increase in the future—this ceiling could then be reduced over time. Alternatively, the number of MPs could be reduced incrementally over several boundary reviews. Either of these options would put downward pressure on the number of MPs without removing 50 parliamentary constituencies at a single stroke.

72. The more constituencies there are, the smaller the electoral quota—and therefore, under the 5% rule, the allowable variation in the number of electors between constituencies—for the UK would be. This means that if the next boundary review takes place on the basis of 650 constituencies, it would be all the more important to relax the current 5% rule, as we recommend above.

Electorate or population

73. Although the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 was the first piece of legislation to create a strict rule regarding the size of the electorate of each parliamentary constituency, previous legislation had made reference to the electorate of parliamentary constituencies, and it is the registered electorate that has historically been the basis on which constituencies are proposed. This is by no means an international norm, and it is common for population size, rather than the size of the registered electorate, to be used as the basis for devising constituency boundaries. Lewis Baston, a political analyst, told us that he thought "about 50% of countries use population, 33% use electoral register".[124] Unlock Democracy argued that population, rather than registered electors, should be the basis for calculating constituency boundaries, because the correspondence between actual population size and the size of the registered electorate had declined over time, and this meant that distributing constituencies on the basis of registered electorate meant that representation in Parliament was being "systematically skewed" away from areas with low rates of electoral registration.[125] This proposal was supported by others, including the Electoral Reform Society.[126] Unlock Democracy argued that using population size would also mean that MPs would be responsible for roughly the same number of constituents, rather than roughly the same number of registered voters. The Boundary Commission for England noted that "the registered electorate, those eligible to be part of the registered electorate and the population are three different groups".[127]

74. Using population data for reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries would almost certainly involve using population data gathered during the decennial census. The below table compares population and electorate figures for 2011 (the last year for which accurate data on both figures is available).

UK population and electorate, as at 2011
CountryPopulation (2011 census) Parliamentary electors (2011) % of population registered to vote
England53,012,500 38,654,00072.9
Scotland5,295,403 3,941,60074.4
Wales3,063,500 2,298,60075.0
Northern Ireland 1,810,8631,213,000 70.0

Sources: 2011 Censuses for England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and ONS electoral statistics

75. Lewis Baston told us that there were two options for using census data in devising parliamentary constituency boundaries: either to use the raw population data or to use the census data to estimate the population that was entitled to be registered to vote—rather than using the figures from the electoral register, which are incomplete.[128] On this last point, the most recent estimate was that the 2014 electoral registers for Great Britain are only 85.9% complete, equivalent to 7.5 million people not being correctly registered to vote.[129] The Boundary Commission for Scotland stated that because "detailed and accurate population counts are only available in Great Britain from the Census, which is only produced every 10 years with its results following around 2 years later […] basing constituency design on population data presents difficulties which we judge to be greater than those of using electorate data."[130] Similarly, Simon James of the Cabinet Office told us:

    We have a census that takes place every 10 years. There is no system of accurately recording the population more frequently than that. ONS publishes estimates but they are just that, estimates. The advantage of using the electoral roll is that it records registered electors. Basing it on population would then bring in all sorts of other practical issues as well, and it is not just a headcount. There would also be a decision about whether or not to include those under 18 or whether it would be pure population and so on.[131]

76. We have been told that for future boundary reviews there is a case for using population data instead of the electoral registers, particularly in light of the current incompleteness of electoral registers. This would be a substantial change to the way in which boundary reviews are conducted, and would almost certainly involve synchronising boundary reviews with the publication of population data from the census. We recommend that the next Government commission research into how population data could be used as the basis for reviewing parliamentary constituency boundaries, and report by the end of the 2015 Parliament. This research should include an analysis of international practice.

Other matters arising

Taking account of new local government boundaries

77. Under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the Boundary Commissions may take account of local government boundaries "as they exist on the most recent ordinary council-election day before the review date". Steve Halsall told us it would be helpful if Boundary Commissions were able to take account of local government boundary changes when orders have been made but the changes had not yet come into effect.[132] He told us that at present orders were made but would not come into effect until the next local election, and the new local government boundaries could therefore not be considered by the Boundary Commissions, which was not helpful. This was a point with which Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie agreed.[133]

78. We agree with the Boundary Commission for Wales that Boundary Commissions ought to be able to take account of local government boundary changes from the date when orders have been made, even if the changes have not yet come into effect. We recommend that the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituency boundaries be changed accordingly. This change would require primary legislation.

IMPACT ON DEVOLVED ADMINISTRATIONS

79. The number of parliamentary constituencies has a direct impact on the number of elected representatives for the devolved assemblies in both Wales and Northern Ireland. The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland noted that as a result of the postponement of the 2013 Review, there would be two more MPs for Northern Ireland than if new parliamentary constituency boundaries had been agreed, and that there would as a consequence also be 12 more MLAs after the next Assembly election than if the changes had gone ahead.[134] Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, also addressed the relationship between parliamentary constituencies and boundaries for constituencies for representatives to the National Assembly for Wales. He argued that fixing the number of parliamentary constituencies distributed to each part of the UK would be helpful to provide "a firm foundation on which we could, if we chose, build whatever new Assembly electoral arrangements commended themselves to the parties here."[135]

80. Any change to the number of parliamentary constituencies in Wales and Northern Ireland would have a direct impact on the number of elected representatives that would be returned to the respective devolved assemblies at the next election for that Assembly. One way of limiting the disruption to the devolved administrations of reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries would be to fix the number of parliamentary constituencies allocated to each part of the UK for several review periods. Reducing the frequency of reviews would also reduce the consequential disruption to constituencies for the devolved assemblies. We recommend that the next Government consider how the rules for the distribution of parliamentary constituencies could be amended so as to limit the disruption of future boundary reviews to the devolved assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland.

APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES

81. At present any changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries are subject to approval by Parliament, with each House needing to approve by resolution a draft Order in Council.[136] Several pieces of evidence supported the practice of parliamentary approval of changes to constituency boundaries,[137] stating that this was a necessary check on the Boundary Commissions' proposals, but a number of people have called for the proposed changes put forward by the Boundary Commissions to be implemented without intervention by Parliament, stating that this would make the process truly independent.[138] The Boundary Commission for England told us that removing a stage of parliamentary approval would "fundamentally change the nature" of the Boundary Commissions.


36   Electoral Law, European Commission for Democracy through Law, May 2008 Back

37   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for England [RPB 13] Back

38   Q20 [Hugh Buchanan] Back

39   Q95 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

40   Q101 [Fabian Hamilton MP], written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 01], Electoral Reform Society [RPB 29] Back

41   Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, Third Report of Session 2010-12, HC 437, para 87 Back

42   Q95 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

43   Q95 [Simon James] Back

44   Q95 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

45   Q20 [Tony Bellringer] Back

46   Q58 [Hugh Buchanan] Back

47   Q20 [Steve Halsall] Back

48   Equality, Community and Continuity: Reviewing the UK Rules for Constituency Redistributions, Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie Back

49   Q122 [Simon James] Back

50   Written evidence from Gateshead Council [RPB 09], Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06], Unlock Democracy [RPB 05], Paul Morris [RPB 04], David Boothroyd [RPB 07], London Borough of Lambeth [RPB 16], Electoral Reform Society [RPB 29], Keep Cornwall Whole [RPB 27] Back

51   Equality, Community and Continuity: Reviewing the UK Rules for Constituency Redistributions, Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie Back

52   Q3 [Professor Ron Johnston] Back

53   Q73 [Lewis Baston] Back

54   Written evidence from John Cartwright [RPB 02], Manchester City Council [RPB 08], the Conservative Party [RPB 19] Back

55   Written evidence from the Conservative Party [RPB 19] Back

56   Written evidence from Manchester County Council [RPB 08] Back

57   Written evidence from the Conservative Party [RPB 19] Back

58   Q26 [Dr William Smith] Back

59   Q44 [Tony Bellringer] Back

60   Q20 [Tony Bellringer] Back

61   Q97 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

62   Q58, The work of the Deputy Prime Minister 2014, 9 September 2014 Back

63   Q99 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

64   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland [RPB 12] Back

65   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for Scotland [RPB 10] Back

66   A guide to the 2013 Review, Boundary Commission for England Back

67   Sixth Review of Parliament Constituencies: Summary of Initial Proposals, Boundary Commission for Scotland, October 2011 Back

68   2013 review of parliamentary constituencies in Wales: information booklet, Boundary Commission for Wales, 2011 Back

69   A Guide to the Sixth Review of Parliamentary Constituencies, Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, September 2011 Back

70   Written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 01] Back

71   Written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 01], Unlock Democracy [RPB 05], John Cartwright [RPB 02], David Boothroyd [RPB 07], Conservative Party [RPB 19], Robert Anthony Hayward [RPB 15] Back

72   Written evidence from the London Borough of Lambeth [RPB 16] Back

73   Written evidence from Paul Morris [RPB 04], Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06], Manchester City Council [RPB 08], Gateshead Council [RPB 09], Craig Aston [RPB 17] Back

74   Q37 [Tony Bellringer] Back

75   The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, Section 12 Back

76   2013 Review of Parliamentary constituencies: Review Closure and Lessons Learned Management Report, Boundary Commission for England, Sixth review - consultation management, Boundary Commission for Scotland, 2013 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies: Revised Proposals Report, Boundary Commission for Wales, October 2012, Sixth Periodical Review of Parliamentary Constituencies: Revised Proposals Report, Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, October 2012 Back

77   Q50 [Dr William Smith] Back

78   Q48 [Tony Bellringer] Back

79   Q50 [Dr William Smith] Back

80   Q46 [Steve Halsall] Back

81   Q 48 [Tony Bellringer] Back

82   Q15 [Professor Ron Johnston] Back

83   Q27 [Tony Bellringer] Back

84   Q27 [Dr William Smith] Back

85   Q47 [Steve Halsall] Back

86   Q40 [Hugh Buchanan] Back

87   Q41 [Hugh Buchanan] Back

88   Q105 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

89   Q109 [Simon James] Back

90   Q49 [Tony Bellringer] Back

91   Q51 [Dr William Smith] Back

92   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for England [RPB 24] Back

93   Lessons learned summary, Boundary Commission for Wales, written evidence from Adrian Bailey [RPB 18] Back

94   Written evidence from Dr Micah Altman and Dr Michael McDonald [RPB 30] Back

95   Written evidence from the Oxford Internet Institute [RPB 32] Back

96   Written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 01], David Boothroyd [RPB 07] Back

97   Q27 [Tony Bellringer] Back

98   Q17 [Tony Bellringer] Back

99   Q18 [Tony Bellringer] Back

100   Q27 [Tony Bellringer] Back

101   Q19 [Tony Bellringer] Back

102   Q56 [Hugh Buchanan and Tony Bellringer] Back

103   Q57 [Tony Bellringer] Back

104   Q1 [Professor Ron Johnston] Back

105   Q113 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

106   Written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 01] Back

107   Q27 [Hugh Buchanan] Back

108   Q27 [Dr William Smith] Back

109   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for Scotland [RPB 10] Back

110   Q8 [Professor Ron Johnston] Back

111   Q62, The Coalition Government's programme of political and constitutional reform, 15 July 2010, HC Deb, col 23, 5 July 2010 [Commons Debate], HC Deb, col 39, 6 September 2010 [Commons Debate] Back

112   Written evidence from John Cartwright [RPB 02], Liam Pennington [RPB 03], Conservative Party [RPB 19], Craig Aston [RPB 17] Back

113   Written evidence from Gateshead Council [RPB 09], Electoral Reform Society [RPB 29] Back

114   Written evidence from David Boothroyd [RPB 07] Back

115   Written evidence from Paul Morris [RPB 04], Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06] Back

116   Boundary Changes, The 2012 Audit, Democratic Audit Back

117   Written evidence from Craig Aston [RPB 17] Back

118   Q13 [Professor Ron Johnston] Back

119   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for England [RPB 13] Back

120   Q52 [Steve Halsall] Back

121   Q137 [Sam Gyimah MP] Back

122   HC Deb, col 23, 5 July 2010 [Commons Debate] Back

123   Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, Third Report of Session 2010-12, HC 437 Back

124   Q90 [Lewis Baston] Back

125   Written evidence from Unlock Democracy [RPB 05] Back

126   Written evidence from Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06], Paul Morris [RPB 04], David Boothroyd [RPB 07], Electoral Reform Society [RPB 29] Back

127   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for England [RPB 13] Back

128   Q71 [Lewis Baston] Back

129   The quality of the 2014 electoral registers in Great Britain, Electoral Commission, July 2014 Back

130   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for Scotland [RPB 10] Back

131   Qq133-4 [Simon James] Back

132   Q27 [Steve Halsall] Back

133   Written evidence from Professor Ron Johnston, Dr David Rossiter and Professor Charles Pattie [RPB 20] Back

134   Written evidence from the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland [RPB 12] Back

135   Written evidence from Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM [RBP 21] Back

136   Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 Back

137   Written evidence from David Boothroyd [RPB 07], Gateshead Council [RPB 09], Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06], John Cartwright [RPB 02], London Borough of Lambeth [RPB 16], Robert Anthony Hayward [RPB 15] Back

138   Written evidence from Paul Morris [RPB 04], Southern Branch of the Association of Electoral Administrators [RPB 06], Keep Cornwall Whole [RPB 27] Back


 
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