POLITICS: Scotland set to lose two MPs in electoral map shake up

Proposals to make voter populations in constituencies more equal could see us lose at least one of our two MPs

By Bill Heaney

Under proposals to make voter populations in each constituency more equal, England is set to gain 10 MPs, while Wales will lose eight and Scotland is on course to be reduced by two.

Once the four national boundary reviews are completed in 2023, England is set to have 543 MPs, Wales 32 and Scotland 57.

Northern Ireland will continue to have 18 MPs in the House of Commons but some of the current boundaries could shift as part of the plans, according to the region’s boundary commission.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published the latest voter data on which the review will be based, with 47.5 million voters to be divided into 650 constituencies of between 69,724 and 77,062 people in size. That’s population, not electorate.

Some island constituencies, such as the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Anglesey, have been granted special dispensation to be outside the population remit.

The new constituency boundaries will come into force in 2023 and will be used at the next general election a year later.

Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “Today marks the start of our work to review the constituency boundaries in England.

“Parliament has set strict rules on greater equality of electorate size between the new constituencies -­ these rules and the increase in total number of constituencies in England mean that there is likely to be a large degree of change across the country.”

Mr Bowden said a first draft of proposals will be published in the summer, and a public consultation will follow to ensure that the plans “take account of local ties and best reflect the geography on the ground”.

There was no news of progress towards this happening in Scotland and Wales, although West Dunbartonshire, which has been left in a completely confusing muddle over boundaries, is certain to be at the centre of that.

For example, for Westminster purposes, the West Dunbartonshire constituency of Clydebank, Dumbarton and Vale of Leven, while the for Scottish parliament purposes, the Dumbarton constituency includes these three areas plus Helensburgh and Lomond.

Suffice it to say that this has caused deep confusion in regard to boundaries where covid restrictions apply according to council boundaries.

For example, if you go to school in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute Council will be responsible for your education whereas in Dumbarton it will be West Dunbartonshire Council.

Clydebank is in West Dunbartonshire although for Scottish Parliament and local authority purposes although it is also in Milngavie, not East Dunbartonshire, where it has traditionally been.

There was speculation recently that any change of boundaries would see the creation of a new Scottish Parliament constituency which might be linked by the Erskine Bridge and include Erskine and Inchinnan, although the electorate are taking that with a pinch of salt.

Major mix-ups in communication are something they have come to expect during the pandemic with the public appealing for clarity of messages at every level.

Will Erskine Bridge soon be linking two parts of the same constituency? Picture by Robert Beacon

One comment

  1. Interesting how the Belfast Telegraph is reporting that whilst the number of MPs is to remain the same at 650 with –

    England gaining 10 MPs
    Scotland losing (-2 ) MPs
    Wales ( -8) MPs
    Northern Ireland remains the same ( at 18.)

    Now since half of NI’s MPs are Sinn Fein and play absolutely no part in Westminster Politics isn’t it interesting how NI has so many seats. A wee press for the DUP perchance.

    Aside though, Scotland would be as good without any MPs for all the influence they have in Westminster. The Feeble Forty Eight are a good as cardboard cut outs.

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