Made a special journey to London on Friday to speak with the Montgomeryshire Society - Cymdeithas Maldwyn. Wanted to meet and talk to people with a connection with Montgomeryshire, who are looking in with affection and interest. Didnt have as much 'chat' time as I'd have liked, and regrettably all discussion is EU Referendum at present. Roll on 23rd June.
I think everyone was taken aback when I said, almost in passing, that I am probably the last MP for Montgomeryshire. Because I've known this for some time, it's easy to assume everyone else does as well. They don't. So I outlined the position.
In 2013, Parliament resolved that the number of MPs be reduced from 650 to 600. I sense the public welcome this - largely in response to the 'expenses scandal' that filled our newspapers in 2010/11. It was also resolved that each constituency should be of the same size (no of constituents). This would work out at figures around 75,000. The Boundary Commission was charged with drawing up the new constituency 'map', with only a 5% tolerance to allow for local circumstances. I thought it should have been 8/10%. As the Bill passed through the Lords, their Lordships (quite outrageously - though personally welcomed by me!) inserted a delay of 5 yrs before the new boundaries would be confirmed. We are now in the process of building up to this in 2018, in time for 2020 election.
The position in Wales is much greater than anywhere else because of previous over-representation and more limited flexibility around boundaries. The no of Welsh MPs will reduce from 40 to 29. We are expecting the Welsh proposals to chop Montgomeryshire into 3 pieces, going South, North and West. The detailed proposals will be made in Sept, and confirmed in 2018. At least the ancient county of Montgomeryshire/Maldwyn will survive as an Assembly constituency.
Personally, I utterly detest this change. Seems bizarre to me that we are "reducing the cost of democracy" while continuing to increase size of the House of Lords. And I really cannot see why every constituency must have the same number of constituents, irrespective of local circumstances, histortoric links and sparcity. But it was in the Conservative 'offer' at last years election.
So there we have it. Unless something unexpected happens, I will be the last MP for Montgomeryshire.