Continue with the current boundary review
Last updated: 09:52am 12 November 2019
Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.42
We will continue with the current boundary review, enshrining the principle of equal seats, while reducing the number of MPs to 600, similar to other Western democratic chambers.
In 2016, the Boundary Commission for England began a review of Parliamentary constituency boundaries, which it is required to do every five years under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. It had some specifications from Parliament – to reduce the number of MPs to 600 and to ensure most constituencies have roughly the same number of electors. This policy is a promise to “continue” with the boundary review, but it goes further and pledges to “enshrine” the principle of equal seats and reduce the number of MPs to 600. That mention of “enshrining” means that as well as completion of the boundary review, we would need to see legislation following from it before this pledge could be said to have been upheld.
The Boundary Commission did complete its review, published in September 2018 as the 2018 Review. It recommended boundary changes, and that the number of constituencies in England should be reduced from 533 to 501.
The government’s website tells us:
“The government laid these reports before Parliament on 10 September 2018 in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986.”
Since then, however, the government has failed to put forward draft legislation based on the recommendations for debate in Parliament. The reasons for this lack of action are unclear.
Publication of the boundary review shows that progress was made, but its recommendations will not be “enshrined” in time for the 12 December 2019 general election, so this pledge will not be delivered. A status of ‘broken’ is reserved for policies the government has reversed or where specific deadlines during their term have been missed. As the government has called an early election, this will close as a policy ‘in progress’ and therefore not delivered.
Review the details
- Boundary Commission for England – Gov.uk
- Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 – Gov.uk
- 2018 Review – Final recommendations for England – Boundary Commission for England
- 2018 Review – Background information and FAQs – Boundary Commission for England
- Boundaries in limbo: why the government cannot decide how many MPs there should be – The London School of Economics and Political Science
- Boundary changes: Final proposals published – BBC
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