No Justification for MP Reduction

September 14, 2016 12:50 PM

Boundary Commission for England websiteThe Boundary Commission of England and Boundary Commission of Wales have published proposals to reduce the total number of Westminster constituencies to 600 and redraw existing constituences to "balance" the number of voters in each seat. The proposals for Scotland will be published next week.

Commenting on Lib Dem Voice, former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats Chris Rennard said:

"The reduction in MPs from 650 to 600 is wrong when there is no reduction in the 'pay roll vote' or reform of the Lords (including reducing its size) and it means that Parliament will be even less able to hold a Government to account. It will be easier for a government to win votes in the Commons as Ministers, Whips and Parliamentary Private Secretaries will be more able to outvote the reduced proportion of backbench MPs.

"The supposed justification of 'saving money' by getting rid of 50 MPs was always a weak one (especially given the money found for other things that the government likes) and the arguments previously advanced about previous boundary reviews having greatly increased the number of MPs was simply not correct. Membership of the House of Commons only grew from 640 in 1945 to 650 in 2010, whilst the size of the electorate in that sixty-five year period grew by more than 12 million voters. Each MP in 1945 represented an average of around 52,000 voters, whilst each MP in 2010 represented an average of just over 70,000 voters, so reducing the number of MPs on this basis was never justified.

"Making it easier for a party with 37% of the votes to win significantly more than 50% of the seats does not make it fairer. The real unfairness of the present system was shown in 2015 when it took 34,243 votes to elect a Tory MP, 40,290 to elect a Labour one and 301,983 votes to elect a Lib Dem, and the position was even more unfair to voters of other parties."