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Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 passed

Royal Assent has now been given to what is now the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020. This new legislation makes amendments to the process for the next and subsequent Parliamentary constituency boundary reviews. The key changes are:

– restoring the total number of constituencies the review must be based on to 650 (reviews since 2011 were required to be based on 600);

– adding an additional ‘protected’ constituency (i.e. not subject to the general requirement of a minimum and maximum electorate that we can recommend) of Ynys Môn (Anglesey);

– the use of electorate data as at 2 March 2020 for the 2023 Review;

– the use of local government boundaries as they were on 1 December 2020 for the 2023 Review. This includes use of boundaries that were legally ‘made’ by that date, even though not yet implemented at a subsequent election;

– specifying that the Government must lay a draft Order giving effect to the recommendations of the four Boundary Commissions within a maximum of four months from the date the last of them submits their final report for a Review;

– removing the Parliamentary debates from the process (i.e. future draft Orders will go directly to the Privy Council);

– increasing the length of time between reviews, from every five years to every eight.

We are currently training up new staff and working with the Office for National Statistics and local electoral registration officers to agree the electorate data to be used for the next Review. We hope to confirm key headline figures early in the new year: the distribution of constituencies to the different nations and regions of the UK; the electoral quota figure; and the minimum and maximum electorate figures for any constituency we are permitted to recommend. We will then immediately begin development of initial proposals for consultation later in 2021.