Could this post be an example of a turkey voting for Christmas? Let me explain. I'm hoping to be elected as Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire sometime within the next 17 months. And one of the platforms on which I could have been elected could lead to a change to the boundary of my new constituency. According to today's Financial Times, David Cameron is thinking about reducing the number of MPs by over 60. Don't know how much truth there's in this, but I've always thought it to be sensible. For years I've watched some MPs chasing cameras and spending most of their time poking their noses into the responsibilities of other tiers of government. And No, I'm not naming names. Either they haven't got enough to do, or they're not doing what they are supposed to be doing.
So what about Montgomeryshire? At present English MPs represent on average 69,000 voters, Scottish MPs represent 67,000 voters, while Welsh MPs represent just 55,000 voters. Can't see how we can argue about this looking a bit lop-sided. I don't know the number of voters in Montgomershire, but I dso know that the population is around 60,000 - so the number of voters must be less than the Welsh average. To anyone who can add two plus two (and get four) can see what this means. But there are two considerations to be taken into account. Firstly, the population of Montgomeryshire is increasing quite rapidly - from about 36,000 in the 1960s to almost 60,000 now. That's about 5,000 per decade. And secondly, I reckon there must be a case for a slightly lower ratio of MP to constituent number in a very rural constituency - which Montgomeryshire is.
First time I was really hit with this issue was when my home telephone rung one weekend when I was an Assembly Member, to hear Michael Howard asking me about what I thought of his idea to reduce the number of Welsh MPs. The proposal was that if the National Assembly moved to a law making body, the 40 MPs would be reduced to 26, while if it remained as it was then, the number would reduce to 32 (or was it 33). It was a proposal included in our last General Election manifesto. I don't know yet what precise figures David has in mind for Wales at present, but I can say that I told Michael Howard that I supported the proposal he put to me a few years ago.