David Cameron to press ahead with boundary changes plans

David Cameron speaking to teenagers taking part in an activity camp in mid-Wales Mr Cameron has said the government must focus on the economy

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David Cameron has said he will press ahead with proposed changes to the House of Commons despite the Lib Dems saying they will vote against them.

The prime minister said plans to redraw constituency boundaries would be "put forward" to MPs and urged all parties to back the "very sensible" proposals.

Senior Lib Dems have said they will oppose them after Tory MPs blocked proposals to reform the House of Lords.

They say this meant the Tories "reneged" on the coalition agreement.

Changes to the Lords - the plan was to make 80% of peers elected and to halve the number of members to 450 - were a long-held goal of the Lib Dems.

But more than 90 Conservatives defied the government in a vote on the issue in July and Mr Clegg pulled the plug on the plans on Monday.


Speaking on a visit to a children's activity centre in Wales, Mr Cameron said it was "frustrating" that the Lords plans had been dropped in the face of opposition "from Labour and others" in Parliament.

Start Quote

All of these claims about the coalition being on its last legs are simply not true”

End Quote Jeremy Browne Foreign Office minister

But he said he could not allow "month after month of wrangling" over the plans and there would now be extra "space" to concentrate on the government's priority of the economy

The climbdown over Lords reform has thrown into doubt its plans to reduce the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 and redraw constituency boundaries to make them roughly the same size.

Mr Cameron, whose party are seen as most likely to benefit from the changes to the Commons, said that "obviously we want the boundary vote to go ahead".

"I am going to say to every MP 'look the House of Commons ought to be smaller, less expensive and we ought to have seats which are exactly the same size'," he said.

"I think everyone should come forward and vote for that proposal because it is a very sensible proposal and it will be put forward."

When he appeared before a committee of MPs earlier this year, Mr Clegg said there was no link between Lords reform and the boundary changes.

But Lib Dem Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said on Tuesday that they were "part of the same constitutional package".

He told Radio 4's Today programme he would oppose boundary changes in a vote expected to take place next year but insisted the dispute would not wreck the coalition.

"Let's get on with the huge areas where we do agree and where we think we can work constructively in the national interest," he said.

"All of these claims about the coalition being on its last legs are simply not true. We can get on with that huge body of work instead."

'Electoral disadvantage'

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said the Lib Dems were facing up to the prospect of not being able to deliver any constitutional change of any significance while in government.

Start Quote

For the time being, at least, life in the Lords will carry on as normal ”

End Quote Sean Curran BBC Parliamentary Correspondent

The Conservatives, meanwhile, may have to live with the current parliamentary boundaries which meant it took many more thousands of voters to elect a Conservative MP than a Labour MP.

Tim Montgomerie, editor of the Conservativehome website for party activists, suggested losing the boundary changes would be a "huge blow" to the Conservatives' chances in the next election.

He told the BBC News Channel: "If you look at the electoral system, Labour can get a parliamentary majority with just a 3% lead in the opinion polls.

"The Conservatives need an 11% lead to get the same result. And one of the reasons for that is that Labour seats tend to be smaller in size than Conservative seats.

"Boundary reforms would not have reduced all of the disadvantage in the electoral system but would have given the Conservatives about 20 more MPs."

Labour has said the boundary changes were "arbitrary" and designed to benefit the Conservatives rather than improve the political system or save money. The party says Mr Clegg did not oppose them when they were agreed in principle by Parliament last year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    @554 DistantTraveller

    But people aren't just maths. When you refer to the will of the people I take it that you mean the democratic will taken as a whole. I don't see how that is improved by normalising the electoral boundaries. By representation we normally mean representing a community, and that community may have unique needs. By lumping together boundaries do we not erode that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....How can less MPs , which means less possibility of accountability, add up to a more efficient democratic possess?!

    I recognise the argument for smaller government but surly that means less civil servants / grossly overpaid "advisers" does it not?!!

    Anything else is surly a RED HERRING


  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    533 "Most of us are very cynical people"

    Not nearly cynical enough e.g.

    "When people say politicians are all the same we seem to end up with even worse people in charge than usual"

    And, if/when we engage, the quality of the "people in charge" magically improves?

    543 At last, an intelligent post on here (apart from mine....)

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    So Nick's attempt to gerrimander the LibDems a controlling position through a PR elected Lords has been rejected and now he will oppose the reduction in MPs and balanced electorates in constituencies.
    Is this not a Coaltion in the national interest but in the LibDem narrow party interest after all the radical supply side stuff is also vetoed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Of course, if the strident lies of the No2AV gang hadn't taken in so many people, the votes would be a bit better balanced already!

    As for Nick Clegg, he has lost face, credibility and probably any authority over his own party.

    Time for a reshuffle? If so, Cameron should leave the jokers out of the pack this time (starting with Gormless George and Theresa the Terrible).

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    Politicians are like dirty nappies , they need regular changing or the bums they're supposed to represent get nappy rash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    There should be a regular midterm review of boundaries anyway, no matter which group of politicians wants it. All constituencies should be of as similar a population size as possible, so that everyone's vote counts equally, regardless of which part of the country they are in. There should be no favour or advantage to any one party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.


    Up to you whether it's insults or not - it depends how many times I have to repeat myself.
    I'm suggesting it's fair to have an equal number of voters in each consituency. Is this so hard to understand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    525. G.Thirde The cuts may still have had to be made but the timescale would not necessarily been as rapid. We are suffering more than we need because Gideon reckoned that extra hardship immediately would lead to recovery by 2015 in time for the next election!
    His calculations were based on wishful thinking.based on economic ignorance

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    Blah.. Blah... Oh behave please Mr Cameron!
    You sound like a sad auld bore who has lost his snuff box!
    And as for Corporal Clegg? I hope he is ready for his UB-40!
    A hopeless, clueless Govt. heading for the out door.
    And still they drone on about sorting out "the mess..." Look at the way its gone you numpties - worse!!!
    Let Dave Brailsford have a go please - he seems to ken what he's doing

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    Trying to push this through will cost the tories ....

    Now the lib dems will have put their prices up from 30 pieces of silver.

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    Oh please don't put me back into Essex! ¦;o)
    Seriously, Of course it's for their own electoral benefit. Jig it about a bit and increase the Torie Vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.


    I don't vote on the grounds that quite frankly the candidates, all of the candidates, bleat the same tired tunes and deliver virtually none of their campaign promises.

    If I thought that a candidate actually stood a chance of changing anything then I'd happily stand behind them. However, the only democratic stance I can take is to abstain in disgust.

    And there's not a box for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    @Under-Used (519)

    You ask, why is it wrong?

    If MPs represent wildly different number of constituents, it means that votes in the House of Commons do not accurately represent the 'Will of the People'. In a division, each MP has one vote and therefore should represent roughly the same number of people. (See my post at 320)

    It has nothing to do with favouring one party or another. It's just maths

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    Cameron really thinks he can have his cake and eat it, doesn't he? Doesn't he realize he wouldn't have a government without the LDs? If I were the LDs, I'd be doing everything to thwart Tory policy from here on in - the worm from inside so to speak. Unless they fight, the LDs will be crushed. They were doomed whatever choice they made in 2010, frankly, which was a sad day for progressiveness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    Vote rigging is frowned upon in dictatorships, but not in the UK, apparently

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    The whole point of boundary changes is to make each MP have the same number of votes.
    To be honest that makes sense and keeps things equal.
    If it reduces the number of MP's and their expenses, it can only be a good thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    There are some incredibly thick people on here! Do they honestly believe that we could have gone on spending money at previous levels! Labour politicians who claim they would have sorted things out by now are having a laugh! There is no money...Labour spent it all, yes the Government are not doing a great job but to suggest that Miliband and Balls would have done much different is a joke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    They are rather silly and not required , will cost money to implement , which we don't have. He should bite the bullet and abandoned them but of course can't now that Clegg has thrown his toys out of the pram.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    Cameron has manipulated the Lib Dems into helping him persecute the working classes, the poor, sick and disabled now hes showing them his true colours. He is what I have always said he was, a sneak.


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