Thursday, December 27, 2012

Parliamentary Boundary Reform - Mark 11

Regular visitors to this blog know I am opposed to the way the current parliamentary boundary review is being implemented. If the whole thing is thrown out, it will bring great joy to Montgomeryshire. I will hold a celebratory party for supporters if and when the death knell is confirmed. I suspect it will be celebrated in other places as well, where the relevant MPs are sensibly more cautious in expressing opinions than I am.

So it follows that my eye was caught by today's Telegraph article reporting that 'senior' Conservative Party figures, following victory at the next General Election, would move to redraw boundaries within days of  forming a Government. This is a rather cheering prospect, in that it involves a Conservative victory and the demise of the current proposals. And it foresees a fresh attempt to introduce  much needed fairness into our electoral system. I'd just like to make some suggestions about how reform could be made more palatable next time around.

The way to move forward with more agreement is to set aside all 'party' considerations and allow the Boundary Commissions to do their job - with more freedom than they had, trapped within the straitjacket of the current Bill. Firstly we should abandon the plan to reduce the number of MPs by 50, cutting the membership of the Lords by 300 instead. The Commission could be advised that a decrease in the number of MPs should be proposed where impact would not be too damaging to local democracy. Secondly, the 5% maximum variation in constituency population should be dropped - either by making it 10%, or preferably simply charging the Commission to equalise constituencies as far as it thinks sensible, taking account of population, history, rurality etc.. I do have to accept that the current over-representation of Welsh MPs should be tackled, particularly if the National Assembly acquires responsibility to levy income tax. Probably have some more suggestions as well if the time comes - though I expect these 'senior' Conservatives will take about as much notice of me as last time. Of course this is just me thinking aloud, after a relaxing day or two away from the influence of Westminster.

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