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Boundary Commission for England

2018 Review

Our final recommendations were presented to Government on 5 September 2018. You can view the reports here. It is the responsibility of the Government to make those recommendations into draft legislation to be debated by Parliament – though it has indicated its intention to bring forward new legislation that would no longer require it to do so.

Background information and FAQs about the 2018 Review

In February 2016, we announced a new review of Parliamentary constituencies in England – called the 2018 Review because we reported with our recommendations in September 2018.

What was the 2018 Boundary Review?

Parliamentary boundaries define the area where a person votes for their local MP – their parliamentary constituency. During the 2018 Boundary Review we examined those areas and made proposals for a new set of boundaries which are fairer and more equal, while also trying to reflect geographic factors and local ties.

The Commission also looked at current constituencies and local government patterns in redrawing the map of boundaries in England. The review involved regularly consulting members of the public for their views on their local area, and the refining proposals in a number of stages.

The Commission submitted its final recommendations to Government in September 2018. Parliament will now have the opportunity to consider our recommendations.

Why was a review being carried out?

The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended in 2011) required the four Boundary Commissions for the UK to carry out a review of constituencies and to submit final reports to Government in September 2018. Parliament specified that the 2018 Review must reduce the number of constituencies, and therefore MPs, in the UK, to 600. It asked us, as an independent and impartial body, to consider where the boundaries of the new constituencies in England should be, ensuring that every new constituency (except two for the Isle of Wight) has roughly the same number of electors: no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507.

Who were the Commissioners?

The Chair of the Commission is the Speaker of the House of Commons but by convention he or she does not participate in the conduct of the review or formulation of the Commission’s recommendations.

The Deputy Chair therefore leads the Commission in the conduct of its review work and is supported by two other Commissioners. The Commissioners for the 2018 Review were:

  • Deputy Chair – Mrs Justice (Frances) Patterson (to December 2016), Mr Justice (Andrew) Nicol (from March 2017 to March 2020)
  • David Elvin QC (term of office ended January 2019)
  • Neil Pringle (term of office ended June 2019)

The Commission is supported by a small team of civil servants provided by the Cabinet Office, which was led during the 2018 Review by the Secretary to the Commission, Sam Hartley.

What about the Boundary Commissions for other parts of the UK?

There are separate Boundary Commissions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Commissions ran similar reviews for their own nations and are subject to the same requirements as BCE, though each Commission had discretion on the timing of consultation stages, and certain matters of policy.

When did the review take place?

The review took approximately two and a half years to be completed, with final recommendations submitted to Government in September 2018.

We published our initial proposals for new boundaries on 13 September 2016, which began twelve weeks of public consultation, including holding public hearings in each region of England.

All feedback from the initial consultation was then published on 28 February 2017. This was followed by a four-week consultation period during which the public were invited to comment on that feedback. That consultation closed on 27 March 2017.

Having considered all of the representations received we published our revised proposals on 17 October 2017. These were consulted on for eight weeks. The consultation closed on 11 December 2017.

After looking at whether any more changes need to be made, in September 2018 the Commission submitted final recommendations in a report presented to the Government, who in turn presented the report to Parliament.

What is happening now?

The review finished when the final report of the Commission’s recommendations was provided to the Government on 5 September 2018. The Government then laid the report in Parliament. Current legislation provides that the Government must then introduce a Statutory Instrument containing those recommendations (which may not be amended by the Government) and Parliament will debate the changes. If Parliament agrees the changes to boundaries, the new constituencies will take effect at the next General Election after that. In March 2020. the Government indicated that it planned to bring forward new legislation, which would remove the requirement on them to take forward the recommendations of the 2018 Review, and would also amend the basis on which future reviews were conducted: you can read their full statement here.

Will my MP or constituency be affected by the boundary changes?

The rules under which the 2018 review was conducted mean that there must be 600 constituencies in the UK, as opposed to 650 previously. This means the number of constituencies in England would be reduced by 32, from 533 to 501. We also ensured that each constituency has a similar number of registered electors. Both of these factors mean that there would be some changes to the majority of the existing constituencies.

What will be the impact of the new rules?

The new stricter limits on the size of the electorate in each constituency and the reduction in the number of seats will mean that the majority of existing constituencies are likely to have to change to some extent. It also means fewer options for creating constituencies than in previous reviews.

What figures are you using in your calculations?

The electorate numbers are taken from the electoral registers maintained by local electoral registration officers and the data they provide to the Office of National Statistics. These were published on 24 February 2016.

How many electors will there be in my constituency?

The electoral quota for the 2018 Review was 74,769 to the nearest whole number. The electoral quota is established by taking the number of the electorate of the UK (44,562,440) and dividing it by 596: this excludes four constituencies, two in Scotland and two for the Isle of Wight, that have been made special cases in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. Every other constituency the Commission recommends must fall within 5% of the electoral quota. This means the largest constituency electorate permissible is 78,507 and the smallest constituency electorate permissible is 71,031.

How do you work out the boundaries?

We first calculated the electoral quota, as described above. Using this quota, and a formula set out in the Act, the four Boundary Commissions calculated how many constituencies each part of the UK is allocated. We then used the same formula to allocate the specified number of constituencies among the nine regions of England.

How did you decide how many MPs in each region?

When we launched the review in February 2016, we also announced the number of constituencies in each region. We worked this out using the same formula that the legislation uses to work out the number of constituencies allocated to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – known as the Sainte-Laguë method. We felt it was important to mirror the spirit of the legislation by allocating the number of constituencies to each region in England – this also replicates the widely welcomed approach we took at the same stage in the 2013 review. The allocation of constituencies to each region is as follows:

Region Electorate Existing constituencies Proposed constituencies
Eastern 4,242,266 58 57
East Midlands 3,275,046 46 44
London 5,118,884 73 68
North East 1,874,396 29 25
North West 5,074,302 75 68
South East 6,067,475* 83* 81*
South West 3,930,770 55 53
West Midlands 3,989,320 59 53
Yorkshire and the Humber 3,722,035 54 50
Total 37,294,494* 532* 499*

* figures exclude one current Isle of Wight constituency and its electorate, and two proposed Isle of Wight constituencies, which are protected under the Act and removed from the calculation to allocate constituencies.

When and how can I comment on the proposals?

We have completed our work on the 2018 Boundary Review and therefore all public consultation has closed. We consulted three times during the course of the review. We received over 35,000 public responses across those three consultation periods. Our first consultation – on the initial proposals – ran for 12 weeks between 13 September and 5 December 2016. All comments from this consultation were published on 28 February 2017 as part of the secondary consultation, and the public were invited to comment on those representations for a four-week period. On 17 October 2017 we published our revised proposals and all the representations received during the secondary consultation. The consultation on our revised proposals ended on 11 December 2017. We submitted our final recommendations to Government on 5 September 2018.

What will you do with my comments?

All comments from the initial consultation were published on our separate consultation website on 28 February 2017 – this is a legal requirement. Comments received during the secondary consultation stage were published on our consultation website on 17 October 2017. Those received during consultation on the revised proposals were also published alongside the final recommendations on our consultation website. Our consultation website was de-commissioned at the end of March 2019, with consultation comments now only being held in the BCE’s records, and subject to standard data protection.

The Commission is grateful to all those that participated in the review.

Will the boundary changes have an impact on my council tax, local services, or insurance premiums?

No. The boundary changes only relate to parliamentary constituencies. Services and council tax charges in your local area are set by your local authority and these will not be affected. Insurance premium calculations are based on postcode so will not be affected.

Does your work favour one political party over another?

As independent and politically impartial bodies, the Boundary Commissions do not take into account patterns of voting or the results of elections when reviewing constituency boundaries. Nor do the political parties’ views on where boundaries should be have any more weight than those of members of the public.

Did work on the 2013 review inform the boundary proposals for the 2018 review?

No. The Act of Parliament that governs the conduct of a Parliamentary Boundary review requires the electoral register data used in it to be that in force two years and ten months before the date by which the final report of the review is required to be submitted. The 2013 review was conducted on the basis of electoral registers as at 1 December 2010, but as the 2018 Boundary Review we were required to report in September 2018 – we used the published electoral register data as at 1 December 2015.

Were recent ward changes taken into account during this review?

Under statutory rules, the Commission could only take into account local government boundaries as they were at the most recent ordinary council elections before the ‘review date’. The 2018 review date was 1 December 2015, so we only considered ward boundaries that were in place on 7 May 2015 – the last election date.

Is the Boundary Commission responsible for ward boundaries?

No, we are not responsible for ward boundaries. While we use wards as the building blocks for constituencies, we do not create them. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England, a separate independent body, is responsible for ward boundaries –

Read more in our Guide to the 2018 Review.

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