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 747.

    @744 AndyC55

    I suppose the one way to test the democratic principles behind boundary changes would be to put it to the voters whose boundaries you wish to change. Any chance of that? What I'm saying to you is that I don't believe that arbitrary lines on a map equal the representation of disparate communities. Proof? Tuition fees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    The current boundaries are clearly unfair, so as democrats and lovers of good democracy the Lib Dems will clearly support the changes. Unless party politics comes first with them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    The Australians put this in the hands of civil servants who conduct a review after each election to ensure fairness - surely this is the better approach?"

    But who appoints the Civil Servants who undertake the review? It's still open to misuse. perhaps the House of Lords should rule on boundary changes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    "731 My argument is that an equal distribution of voters within a boundary does not correlate to an improvement in democracy for the people"

    That's not an argument, it's a statement of your belief. But you've not put forward any argument to back it up

    Representation and dilution? Which is dilutive and representational. two constituences split 80,000/20,000 voters or two split 50,000/50,000?

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    Does anybody else think, as I do, that the Coalition will end as it began, with:

    "What is David Cameron's favourite joke?"

    "Nick Clegg."

    Tragi-comedy is on the way folks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    The needs and the views of the masses are irrelevant this country is run by and for the benefit of the old Etonian Boys Club
    Sometimes known as the Tory Party.The lesser public schoolboys have to settle for leading Labour and Lib/Dems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    The Lib Dems wanted to make the Lords more democratic, because they can't they will, in retaliation, decide to not back a proposal to make the commons more democratic.

    It just shows you their not really after democracy at all, if they were, they'd back the boundary changes anyway.

    I'd back democracy over party politics any day. Nation first, party second!

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    If the Cons are serious about making it more democratic, how come they are so opposed to PR, AV, STV etc.? Is this one of those double standards things?

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    Your comments. mostly Liberal dribble of the worse kind, the rest inconsequential diatribe. I think it would be beneficial for you to get out of your Yurt now and again and take a good long look around at the damage you have cause in the U.K. look long and hard at the workers who you would persecute all in the name of P.C. I revel in critique of Liberals anyone sane would.

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    "Victor G
    This is just Plain Gerrymandering.. When are the Media going to comment on this Blatant Rigging of the System to suit the Tories"

    What??!! A proposal that constituencies should be as equal in size as possible is gerrymandering? How?

    You then go on to suggest a system where the number of MPs is aligned to the number of voters - exactly what the boundary changes seek to achieve!

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    Is there a sensible argument against having ‘same sized constituencies’?

    2001 Labour - 10.7m votes - 413 seats = 26550 votes per seat.
    2005 Labour – 9.5m votes - 355 seats = 25900 votes per seat.
    2010 Conservative – 10.7m votes - 306 seats = 34850 votes per seat.

    The current configuration is loaded in Labour’s favour

    Nothing to do with the Daily Mail; just simple facts

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    When will the Lib-Dems realise they are the junior partner. If they showed a little common sense they would realise they would not carry the Tory back benchers whilst insisting on PR as part of the package. The country has already rejected PR. House of Lords reform with some elected members is palatable but not if they are elected under a system of proportional representation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    Nick will have 4 options:
    1) Vote against the boundary changes and resign from cabinet
    2) Back down and vote for the boundary changes
    3) Abstain from the vote (resign ineffectively)
    4) Pull the plug on the coalition

    We will therefore discover just how much he loves the title of DPM - even if it means little more than "tea boy" and whether or not he has anything resembling a spine. Toom Tabard

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    So change the boundary changes means a drop of 50 mp's
    A better change would be that no MP under 35 could stand for more than 3 elections and no MP over 45 could stand for more than 5 elections this would force Mp's to have had work place experience working as a special advisor or researcher would count as been a Mp as far election eligibility go's this is to stop politics been the only thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    A suggestion:- Give Politicians a year off, and see if we notice the difference. The country could do with a holiday from more legislation, whoever proposes it. As for Governence, there has been little evidence of that in recent years. I suspect that we could do with a drastic cut in MP's numbers and also ministers. We can decide in a year about boundary changes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    PR Anyone ? I distrust Parliament. We are given one option and are supposed to accept it blindly.

    Why 400 hundred seats why not 310 or 410 given how few are in the house on any given debate 101 should be enough. why one size

    These boundary changes will stop your local MP being your local MP so PR please

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    @706 AndyC55

    Fairer to whom? My argument is that an equal distribution of voters within a boundary does not correlate to an improvement in democracy for the people. And by democracy I mean the representation of communities by elected representatives. Representative being the key word. It dilutes representation and acts as a negative force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    Blimey I’m confused now, do the BBC have a Tory bias or left wing bias, talk about being all things to all people. Or could it be they just reflect a range of divergent opinions which individuals may or may not agree with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    720. Adam

    Well something is wrong if there is such a disparity from one constituency to another. It is clear they should all be very similar in size for equality.
    What is the reason for the skewed sizes?
    Are the current commission carrying out the boundary changes often enough?

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Just been reading about the rising use of food banks in the UK by people who can't afford to feed themselves and their children. But of course reforming the House of Lords and boundary changes is more important to our MPs. Ivory towers just doesn't come close!


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