The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – North West
The North West currently has 75 constituencies. Of these constituencies, 33 have electorates within the permitted electorate range. The electorates of 28 constituencies currently fall below the permitted range, while the electorates of 14 constituencies are above. Our proposals reduce the number of constituencies in the region by two, to 73.
The North West comprises the counties of Cumbria and Lancashire (including the unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen, and Blackpool), the unitary authority areas of Cheshire (Cheshire East; Cheshire West and Chester; Halton; and Warrington), and the metropolitan areas of Greater Manchester and Merseyside (which are covered by metropolitan boroughs).
We appointed two Assistant Commissioners for the North West – Andy Brennan QPM and David Brown QFSM – to assist us with the analysis of the representations received during the first two consultation periods. This included chairing public hearings, which were held in the region in order to hear oral evidence directly from the public. The dates and locations of these hearings were:
In formulating our initial proposals, we noted that the electorate of the North West of 5,381,549 results in it being entitled to 73 constituencies, a reduction of two. We then considered how this number of constituencies could be split across the region.
The distribution of electors across the three counties and two metropolitan areas of the North West region is such that allocating a whole number of constituencies to each county and metropolitan area, while keeping each constituency within the permitted electorate range, is not possible.
Cumbria’s electorate of 389,717 results in a mathematical entitlement to 5.31 constituencies. This number is too large for the county to be allocated five whole constituencies, and too few for six. As such, we could not consider it as a sub-region in its own right and it was therefore necessary for Cumbria to be paired with another county. Our options for pairing Cumbria with another county were limited by the Irish Sea to the west, and the border with Scotland to the north. Since we are not proposing that any regional boundaries should be crossed unless we have received compelling reasons to do so, we did not propose that Cumbria be paired with Northumberland or County Durham in the North East region, or North Yorkshire in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. We noted that Lancashire (with Blackburn with Darwen, and Blackpool) has an electorate of 1,114,043. With a combined electorate of 1,503,760, a sub-region of Cumbria and Lancashire would be mathematically entitled to 20.49 constituencies and would allow for 20 whole constituencies to be allocated to the sub-region, albeit with electorates that would be at the upper end of the permitted electorate range. We therefore proposed an allocation of 20 constituencies to the sub-region of Cumbria and Lancashire.
The electorate of the metropolitan area of Merseyside, of 1,049,947, results in a mathematical entitlement to 14.31 constituencies. However, the electorate in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, at 244,680, gives the borough a mathematical entitlement to 3.33 constituencies. This means that there cannot be a whole number of constituencies which are wholly contained within the Wirral borough boundary. It was therefore necessary for a constituency to either cross between the Wirral and the Cheshire West and Chester unitary authority, or for a constituency which spans the River Mersey between the Wirral and the City of Liverpool. We noted that in previous reviews, the crossing of the River Mersey had been strongly opposed, so we proposed to cross the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester boundary and treated Merseyside and Cheshire as a sub-region. Their combined electorate of 1,877,361 results in a mathematical entitlement to 25.58 constituencies, giving an allocation of 26 whole constituencies. We also proposed a second cross-county boundary constituency within this sub-region, using the natural geographic boundary of the River Mersey to bisect the Borough of Halton.
Despite considering Lancashire and Merseyside in separate sub-regions, we proposed a constituency which crossed the county – and sub-region – boundary, combining four wards of the District of West Lancashire with the town of Southport. Although this crossing is not required by the electorates, we considered that this allowed us to better reflect both local ties and the boundaries of existing constituencies, and results in a more appropriate pattern of constituencies across much of the North West region.
We noted that the electorate of Greater Manchester – of 2,000,428 – results in a mathematical entitlement to 27.26 constituencies. As such, we were able to allocate Greater Manchester 27 whole constituencies, which is the same as its existing allocation, and that it could be considered as a sub-region in its own right, with no requirement for any constituencies to cross the boundary of the metropolitan area.
The use of the sub-regions outlined above was largely supported during the consultation on the initial proposals. We did receive some objections to crossing the boundary between Southport in Merseyside and the Borough of West Lancashire, with suggestions that the crossing of the local authority boundaries should be elsewhere. We also received counter proposals that crossed the boundaries of Greater Manchester, which effectively resulted in there being no sub-regions in the North West.
In formulating the revised proposals, while we acknowledged the opposition in some of the representations to the crossing between Southport and West Lancashire, we considered there were benefits of the crossing for the region as a whole and we did not recommend changing the sub-region groupings for the revised proposals.
In response to our revised proposals, we did not receive any further evidence that would justify the use of alternative sub-regions to those we adopted in our revised proposals. Therefore, the sub-regions we propose as part of the final recommendations are:
Cumbria and Lancashire (including Blackburn with Darwen, and Blackpool, with, additionally, the crossing between Southport and West Lancashire