“Outrageous decision” to ignore boundary change recommendations

Posted on 12 February 2016 (Permalink)

“It is ridiculous that the Government has taken 11 months to respond to PCRC’s report, only to totally ignore its recommendations. It is another affront to our democratic process and demonstrates why we need a UK wide Citizens Convention to revive our democracy. We can expect more rigging of our democracy when the Government decides on Constituency boundaries from a Government which ignores a report endorsed unanimously by the PCRC which had a Conservative majority. They are riding rough shod over fair play in our politics" said Graham Allen MP, chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee 2010-15

The Conservative Government has finally responded to PCRC’s report on the redrawing of the parliamentary constituency boundaries, 11 months after it was published. The deadline for responding to select committee reports is two months maximum.

However, now the report has been published the Government has ignored many of the recommendations. These would have seen the variation in seat size be set at +/- 10% of the national average as opposed to 5%, and to reduce the number of MPs but not work to a set figure of 600 which would have provided flexibility.

This is combined with the bringing forward of the deadline for Individual Voter Registration, which means that the boundary changes will be without some 800,000 people who were previously on the register as they will be drawn from the electoral register as it was in December 2015.

Chair of the committee, Graham Allen MP said: “It is appalling that the Government has simply rejected the recommendations of PCRC out of hand. Especially seen as it had taken them nearly a whole year to reply. I will be raising this matter with the Speaker.

The Conservative Government is quite clearly trying to fix the electoral system for its own party advantage by ignoring the sensible recommendations made by the committee. This is combined with the cuts to opposition funding, the changes to voter registration rules and the reform of Trade Union funding will mean that the Conservatives will go into the next election having built in a huge partisan advantage. Yet the highly effective and alert PCRC, the all party committee which kept an eye on these issues and would have scrutinised their decisions, was scrapped within weeks of the Conservatives coming to power.

I hope to hold an urgent debate to bring to public attention this abuse it is unfair and undemocratic and part of a wider pattern of unrestrained Executive power.”