FAQs for the 2018 Review
Why is a review being carried out?
The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended in 2011) requires the four Boundary Commissions for the UK to carry out a review of constituencies and to submit final reports to the Secretary of State in September 2018.
What does the Act require for boundaries?
We must follow the statutory rules set out in the Act. These rules have been significantly changed since the last implemented review and will mean substantial changes to Parliamentary constituencies across the UK. These include:
reducing the total number of constituencies from 650 to 600; and
making sure that each constituency contains a more equal number of registered electors.
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.
When will the review take place?
The review takes place over approximately two and a half years, with final recommendations submitted to Parliament in September 2018.
We published our initial proposals for new boundaries in September 2016, and consulted on them for twelve weeks, including hosting public hearings in each region of England. All feedback from the initial consultation was published on 28 February 2017, followed by a four-week consultation period during which the public were invited to comment on that feedback.
The Commission has reviewed in detail all comments from the initial and secondary consultation and determined what revisions are appropriate to the proposed boundaries. Following publication of these revised proposals on 17 October 2017, there is a third period of consultation lasting eight weeks, where the public is invited to comment on those revised proposals.
After looking at the responses to that final consultation, and making any consequential final changes that may be appropriate, in September 2018 the Commission will make its final recommendations in a report published and presented to the Government, which must be put before Parliament.
What happens when the review is complete?
The Commission’s involvement in the review will finish when the final report of the Commission’s recommendations is provided to the Secretary of State in September 2018. The government must then place before Parliament a piece of legislation called 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 scheduled General Election after that (currently scheduled to be 2022).
How do you work out boundaries?
We first calculate the electoral quota. This is the number of registered electors in the UK divided by the number of constituencies (not including four exempt constituencies). The current electoral quota is 74,769. Every constituency in the UK – except two covering the Isle of Wight and two Scottish island constituencies – must have a number of registered electors within 5% of this figure.
Using this quota, and a formula set out in the Act, the four Boundary Commissions calculate how many constituencies each part of the UK is allocated. We then use the same formula to allocate the specified number of constituencies among the nine regions of England.
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 . The particular electorate figures we must use or specified in legislation, and for the 2018 Review are those that were published by ONS on 24 February 2016.
Maps which show current constituencies and wards are available from the Ordnance Survey’s website.
How much will the 2018 review cost?
The Government has estimated that the cost of undertaking the 2018 Review in England will be approximately £5.6 million.
What about the Boundary Commissions for other parts of the UK?
There are separate Boundary Commissions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Commissions will run similar reviews for their own nations and are subject to the same requirements as BCE.
Will this review 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.
When can I comment on the proposals?
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, commencing a secondary consultation that ran for four weeks until 27 March 2017, during which the public were invited to comment on those representations. A final consultation – on our revised proposals – opened on 17 October 2017, and people have until 11 December 2017 to submit responses.
What will you do with my comments?
All comments from the initial consultation were published on our website on 28 February 2017 – this is a legal requirement. Comments received during the secondary consultation stage were published alongside our revised proposal consultation in October 2017, and those received on the revised proposals will be published at the end of the review.
Will my MP or constituency be affected by the boundary changes?
The new rules mean that there must be 600 constituencies in the UK, as opposed to 650 previously. This means the number of constituencies in England will be reduced by 32, from 533 to 501. We must also ensure that each constituency has a similar number of registered electors. Both of these factors mean that there will be some changes to the majority of the existing constituencies.
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-Lague 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.
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.
Will recent ward changes be taken into account during this review?
Under statutory rules, the Commission can 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 is 1 December 2015, so we may only consider ward boundaries that were in place on 7 May 2015 – the last normal council election date before that.
Is the Boundary Commission responsible for ward boundaries?
No. 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.
How many electors will there be in my constituency?
The mean average number of electors in a UK Parliament constituency is 74,769 to the nearest whole number. This is known as the electoral quota figure, and is established by taking the total number of Parliamentary electors for the UK (44,562,440) and dividing it by 596 (both figures exclude four constituencies, two in Scotland and two for the Isle of Wight, that Parliament designated as special cases).
Every recommended constituency (except the four special cases) must fall within 5% of the electoral quota. This means the largest normal constituency electorate permissible is 78,507 and the smallest permissible is 71,031.
Why did work on the 2013 Review end before submission of the final report?
In January 2013, Parliament voted to end work on the 2013 Review, postponing the report of a first review under the new statutory rules until 2018. The reasons for this decision were set out during the debates on the relevant amendment to the (then) Electoral Registration and Administration Bill. Those debates can be read in the Official Record on the Parliament website, the relevant dates being 14 January 2013 for the House of Lords and 29 January 2013 for the House of Commons.
How much was spent on the 2013 Review?
The 2013 Review cost the Boundary Commission for England £4.7 million. This contrasts with the £6.2 million that had originally been budgeted for the cost of the review in England over the same time period and the £7.5 million that had been allocated for the entire life of the review.
Will any views I have submitted during the previous review be taken into account in the next review?
No. The current review will be based on new proposals and you will be invited to comment on these.
Will 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 therefore conducted on the basis of electoral registers as at 1 December 2010, but the current review – required to report in September 2018 – must use the published electoral register data as at 1 December 2015.
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