Guide to the 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies
Who we are and what we do
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is an independent and impartial non-departmental public body, which is responsible for reviewing Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England. The members of the BCE and other key positions are described at Appendix A.
The BCE has the task of periodically reviewing all the Parliamentary constituencies in England. It is currently conducting a review on the basis of rules most recently updated by Parliament in 2020. These latest rules retain 650 constituencies for the UK Parliament as a whole, and require constituencies that we propose or recommend to comply with strict parameters, in particular as far as the number of electors in each constituency is concerned.
The review process is heavily informed by public consultation. The BCE develops and publishes initial proposals for constituencies across England. Representations from the public about these proposals are then taken in writing and at public hearings in each region of England across two rounds of consultation. In light of all the views expressed about these initial proposals, the BCE may revise them and then conduct a further round of written consultation on the revised proposals.
The BCE is required to make a formal final report to the Speaker of the House of Commons before 1 July 2023, recommending any changes that it believes are appropriate to the distribution, size, shape, name or designation of constituencies in England. The current constituencies review is therefore referred to throughout this booklet as ‘the 2023 Review’.
The Government must turn the recommendations of the BCE (and those of the equivalent Commissions for the other three parts of the UK) into an ‘Order in Council’ that implements the recommendations. The constituencies set out in the Order will then be implemented for the next General Election after the date on which the legislation is approved.
The BCE has produced this Guide to help to explain how the process for the 2023 Review will work. The Guide covers both what the law says the BCE must do as part of the process, and the particular approach the BCE proposes to take on matters of policy within its own discretion.
This Guide therefore sets out a detailed and technical statement of: the statutory framework; the review process; and the BCE’s policies in developing proposals and final recommendations.
The BCE hopes that, by clarifying the process and policy in this way, the Guide will both encourage those who may be thinking of making their views known and help to ensure that those who do make their views known can do so in the most well-informed and effective manner. The Guide therefore aims:
to clearly explain how and when the public may contribute their views, so as to most effectively inform the development of the BCE’s final recommendations; and
to explain the significant changes that were most recently made to the law governing Parliamentary constituency reviews by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 (‘the 2020 Act’) and the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 (‘the 2011 Act’). Both the 2020 Act and 2011 Act have a major impact on the way a review operates. Furthermore, as neither of the constituency reviews conducted since the 2011 Act resulted in new constituencies being implemented, the 2023 Review is likely to result in a significant degree of change to a large number of existing constituencies, if for no other reason than the need to adjust for 20 years of change to the distribution of electors since the data on which the existing constituencies are based was established.
However, the Guide is not intended to be a full statement of the law about the review and redistribution of Parliamentary constituencies. For a definitive statement of that law, please refer to the provisions of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended by the Boundary Commissions Act 1992, the 2011 Act and the 2020 Act) available at www.legislation.gov.uk. The 1986 Act (as amended) is referred to throughout the remainder of this Guide simply as ‘the Act’.
Any queries about the content of this Guide, or on any other aspect of the work of the BCE, can be raised using these contact details:
Boundary Commission for England 35 Great Smith Street London SW1P 3BQ Telephone: 020 7276 1102
UK electoral boundaries the BCE is not responsible for
There are separate Boundary Commissions for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which are responsible for the review of Parliamentary constituencies in their respective parts of the United Kingdom.
The BCE has no responsibility for the review of local government electoral boundaries or structural reviews of local government. In England, such reviews are the responsibility of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, while similar bodies conduct local government reviews in the other parts of the UK.
Contact details for all these bodies are to be found in Appendix B.