Parliamentary Boundary Reviews: What Next? Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.The Government cannot be confident that the House of Commons will support the implementation of the Boundary Commissions’ recommendations in the autumn. The existing boundaries are based on data that is more than two decades old. Furthermore, they were drawn using rules that do not reflect the current reality of devolution in the UK. Therefore, using the existing boundaries is not a step that should be taken lightly given the significant influence that boundaries have on our elections. Amending the current legislation to facilitate a boundary review process that would command broader support in Parliament, and have updated boundaries in place by a General Election 2022, is therefore worthy of serious consideration. The Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill suggests that, if there were will on both sides of the House to compromise, it would be possible to develop new rules that could attract broader support. It may provide Parliament and Government with a vehicle for debating and implementing legislative change. (Paragraph 32)

2.We conclude that, if it moved quickly, it would be possible for the Government to introduce new legislation to allow for a new boundary review and for it to be implemented prior to a 2022 election. However, the window for such a decision is short. It is likely that it will have closed by the autumn of this year, as by that time it is unlikely that a new review that would allow for sufficient public consultation could be delivered before 2022. (Paragraph 43)

3.Even if legislation was brought forward immediately it is likely that it would be impossible for a new review to be carried out and implemented without either truncating the time between new boundaries being finalised and the next scheduled election, or reducing the level of public consultation in the process, or potentially both. None of these options would be without costs or risks. These would need to be properly debated by Parliament and a consensus reached. However, they do not immediately appear unsurmountable if Parliament decides this is the preferable option. (Paragraph 44)

4.What is clear is that there are serious problems with using the existing boundaries for a further election in 2022, which appears to be the only likely alternative option given the Parliamentary arithmetic. They will be based on data that will be two decades old. They reflect neither the changes in population since 2000, nor how devolution has further affected the UK’s constitution, especially in respect to Wales. (Paragraph 45)

5.We therefore recommend that the House of Commons should be given an early opportunity to debate the options for reform and to decide whether or not to continue the current boundary review. In doing so the House would need to consider the potential risks of legislating, and establish if consensus can be reached in time for legislation to be passed before the summer. The Government should consider if the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill could provide such an opportunity. (Paragraph 46)

16 February 2018