Top MPs at risk in shake-up of English constituencies

 

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Some of the most high-profile MPs in Parliament face seeing their seats disappear as part of a far-reaching shake-up of the Commons map in 2015.

Ken Clarke, Chris Huhne and Tessa Jowell are among those affected by Boundary Commission plans for England and Northern Ireland.

The proposals are part of a move to cut the number of MPs by 50 to 600 by the next general election.

Details for Wales and Scotland will be published at a later date.

The government believes a smaller Commons will lower the cost of politics, saving £12m a year, while the system will be fairer as the electorate in each constituency will be more uniform.

Independent recommendations

But some Labour MPs have accused the coalition of gerrymandering while some Lib Dems are reported to be unhappy about the prospect of losing seats in the shake-up - agreed as a package earlier this year in combination with May's referendum on the voting system.

MPs whose constituencies are set to be effectively abolished will have to find another seat to contest if they wish to remain in Parliament, leading to a fierce scramble in the run-up to the next election.

The Boundary Commission for England has given details of the 502 constituencies, down from 533 last year, in which elections are likely to be held in 2015.

The full details of allocated English seats, as against 2010, are:

  • South East England: 83 seats (-1)
  • North West England: 68 (-7)
  • London - 68 seats (-5)
  • Eastern England: 56 seats (-2)
  • Yorkshire and Humber: 50 seats (-4)
  • West Midlands: 54 seats (-5)
  • South West England: 53 seats (-2)
  • East Midlands: 44 seats (-2)
  • North East England: 26 seats (-3)

Senior figures from all parties are likely to be affected by the changes.

Threat to MPs

Shadow Cabinet members Ed Balls and Hilary Benn could face a fight for one seat if their nearby constituencies in West Yorkshire are partly amalgamated.

MPS WHOSE SEATS ARE UNDER THREAT

  • George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Hugh Robertson (Tories)
  • Ed Balls, Hilary Benn, Tessa Jowell, Chuka Umunna (Labour)
  • Chris Huhne, Vince Cable, Tim Farron (Lib Dems)

In London, the Dulwich and West Norwood seat of former minister Tessa Jowell would be split into three while Labour frontbencher Chuka Umunna would see his Streatham seat divided up four ways.

Lib Dem MPs who could be under pressure include Chris Huhne, Vince Cable and Tim Farron.

Energy Secretary Mr Huhne's Eastleigh constituency would be split in two under the plans while Business Secretary Vince Cable, MP for Twickenham, could potentially find himself up against Conservative Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, in a future contest.

'Tea room fuss'

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's Rushcliffe constituency in Nottinghamshire would cease to exist in its current form.

He told the BBC he "regretted" its likely demise but would not rush into any decisions about his own future - preferring to wait until the outcome of the consultation.

PROPOSED SEAT ALLOCATIONS

  • England: 502 (-31)
  • Scotland: 52 (-7)
  • Wales: 30 (-10)
  • Northern Ireland: 16 (-2)

"It all has to be handled carefully. But I am one of those who has been through boundary changes before and it usually works alright for those who go about it sensibly.

"The fuss in the (Commons) tea room will soon die down, I trust."

Conservative leader David Cameron, MP for Witney, and Labour leader Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, are among 77 people whose constituencies would be unaffected by the changes.

MPs will be able to "appeal" against the provisional changes during a 12-week consultation taking place between now and December.

The Boundary Commission will publish revised proposals next year which will also be subject to exhaustive consultation before finally being submitted to Parliament for approval by October 2013.

It is encouraging the public to give their feedback on its proposals - including the names of constituencies - during a series of open hearings in October and November.

"The Commission was given clear principles and from that starting point we have found a solution that we think best meets Parliament's rules," said the Commission's secretary Simon James.

'More equal'

The government said the plan to shrink the Commons was "right" and had been spelled out in the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

THE PROPOSED CHANGES

  • The number of seats will fall from 650 to 600
  • Almost all constituencies will have between 72,810 and 80,473 registered voters
  • Three constituencies - Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney and Isle of Wight - will be excluded from this quota due to their distinctive geography
  • Isle of Wight gains second MP
  • Final proposals to be submitted to Parliament for approval by October 2013

"The constituencies used in the 2010 general election vary widely in size and this process will make them more equal and ensure everyone's vote has a more equal weight," a No 10 spokesman said.

Options open to MPs without seats include applying for selection in a new seat whose boundaries resemble their old one or going up against another MP for the right to represent a different seat.

Another option is to succeed any MP who chooses to retire and not stand again in 2015.

Details of proposed changes to Scottish constituencies will be published next month while the likely make-up of seats in Wales will become clear in January.

Professor John Curtice, an elections expert from the University of Strathclyde, said the existing electoral map discriminated against the Conservatives, due to population shifts over time and the comparative number of seats in England, Scotland and Wales.

The changes would reduce but not eliminate this "bias", he added.

Graphic showing changes in Ken Clark's constituency
 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 552.

    I have an idea for debate lets keep the boundaries and cull all the mps and replace with new politicians like we have now but all new with new ideas? and all have achieved something outside politics

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 551.

    My "local" MP, Brooks Newmark is one of those affected by this. Yes, that's the same Brooks Newmark that was born in Harvard, CT, USA, is reportedly worth £3.2 million, and until 2001 did not even live in the constituency he represents, having stood for Newcastle Central in 1997.

    Good riddance I say. Trouble is Priti Patel, from London, will be no better if she replaces him...

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 550.

    #540

    Your comment was rubbish.

    what part of "It comes from Northern Ireland" is correct? You are just making yourself look small minded and parochial.

    Gerrymandering has happened in virtually every democratic society. It is not remotely unique to NI.

    John

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 549.

    403.
    Megan


    "There should be a right of 'recall' if a reasonable number of constituents are dissatisfied with performance."

    ---
    Both Coalition parties had the right of recall in their election manifesto.
    Since the election, growing dissatisfaction has seen legislation being kicked into the long grass.
    Once again, self interest is more important than national interest to our parliamentarians.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 548.

    "blurightthru
    I think you will find that after Blair got in in 1997 there were changes made which made an unfair system even more unfair - making any party other than Nu Labour virtually unelectable."

    In that case perhaps you could explain why it doesn't seem to have worked.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 547.

    Here's the situation in my part of the country.

    Before the boundary reorganisation: blue wasteland.
    After the boundary reorganisation: blue wasteland.

    This tinkering at the edges of our so-called democracy is essentially meaningless. Wherever you are in England, at least half of you will probably live your entire lives without having voted for your elected MP.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 546.

    527. TheGingerF "516 smartig..Why on earth exclude oil?"
    and
    520. john #516 "Why exclude oil?"

    I "exclude oil" because in reply to my reply, TheGingerF stated:-

    "502 smartig..By 2015 the Scottish oil advantage disappears. Just puts us at same deficit levels as projected UK whole. "

    Using stats from the report quoted by TheGingerF, I wanted to show that Scotland would NOT be the same as the UK

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 545.

    It'll be interesting to see if the displaced MPs can find a job with similar pay/perks/fiddles to that they have claimed is necessary to compensate them for what they could earn outside of Parliament.
    Why do so many look so glum - after all they've constantly boasted they could earn more on "civvy street"

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 544.

    Unemployed MPs - can't be bad, they will know what their policies have done to the rest of us. Fewer MPs = fewer useless politiicians living off our taxes, again can't be bad.
    Couple of questions though. Will these boundary changes have any effect on local election boundaries? What redundancy money do they get? Will they still represent their self interest rather than their consituents?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 543.

    @coram-populo-2010

    I remember in the 1997 election we had a chap and his Merc S class move into the apartment block I live in about 6 weeks before the election. Due to his ethnicity it was quite apparent he 'wasnt from around here'. Turns out he's the Conservative candidate. He lost and after the election he and his S Class were never seen again. We also had Howard Marks standing, odd day that!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 542.

    @538 coram-populo-2010

    When on the gravy train don`t pull the emergency cord.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 541.

    528. more_love
    If current system favours Labour then why have most governments since WW2 been Conservative?"

    I think you will find that after Blair got in in 1997 there were changes made which made an unfair system even more unfair - making any party other than Nu Labour virtually unelectable.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 540.

    " john
    No it comes from 1800s America (Boston I think). Look it up before you spout rubbish.

    John"

    Irrespective of etymology, it was widely practiced in Northern Ireland after partition and one of the major causes of the civil rights unrest in the 1960s which led to "The Troubles". That is not rubbish.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 539.

    @506.CNHedley
    we should have a voting system which combines multi member constituencies with STV for densely populated areas, with single member constituencies with AV for sparsely populated rural areas. . . then we will get the parliament we deserve.
    Thats basically the same as 'The Representation of the People Bill 1917-18' that was ultimately kyboshed by the Lords

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 538.

    Surely an MP, of any political background should be required to live within the constituency they purport to represent?

    By the same token, perhaps we should re-examine our MEPs who appear to be under the radar as regards scrutiny for too long? Do you know the name your MEP? You pay their salary/expenses. Why are they so quiet? Just a thought.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 537.

    About time too.

    It should end the disgraceful situation of Labour in their small constituencies 36% and a majority of 60 and Tories with 37% and a hung Parliament.

    The Labour opposition to this measure in Parliament was nothing to do with AV, it was about losing their unfair advantage!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 536.

    Cull..............seems an appropriate term,for vermin.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 535.

    528. more_love
    If current system favours Labour then why have most governments since WW2 been Conservative?"

    The answer to that should be obvious....

    (In case you can't work it out, it's because most people want Conservative MPs most of the time)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 534.

    @521 Total Mass Retain

    Thank you for the definition. I was under the impression it originated in the USA and is a portmanteau from the name of Elbridge Gerry and salamander. Whichever definition is correct it`s still my belief that designing a constituancy to fit a voting pattern is in itself undemocratic.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 533.

    @363.AspieMum
    . It makes no sense for MPs to vote on things that don't affect their part of the country .. ... It shouldn't be allowed.
    I'm sure Welsh & Scottish MPs would much rather be in the bar getting sozzled rather than voting on English matters. Stopping them is not the problem, thats easy, its how you maintain the democratic balance afterwards & stop England becoming a one party state

 

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