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Was going for a smaller House of Commons a mistake?

August 29th, 2011

Does it increase the risk of the changes being voted down?

The big UK story in the Financial Times this morning is something what we’ve touched on several times here on PB already – the possibility that the planned new boundaries for the next election get voted down when they come before the commons in two years time.

Jim Packard reports that “that significant numbers of Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs” look set to join Labour in opposing the detailed changes. The reasons are obvious – many fear that the new electoral map could cost them their jobs.

The legislation has already gone through parliament – what will need a positive vote in the commons are the detailed boundary changes that are being drawn up by the boundary commissioners.

But why push for a reduction in the number of MPs in the first place? Surely the key measures are equal-sized constituencies, more boundary reviews, and a fast track procedure for consultation on the changes?

It’s these changes that will help meet Tory concerns about the electoral system being biased to Labour. In this context the reduction in the number of MPs is almost irrelevant.

The main consequence of moving to 600 seat house of commons is to create a group of MPs with a vested interest in seeing the detailed changes being stopped.

As it is there’s a strongish possibility of the plans going down and the likely result of that is that the 2015 general election would be fought on the 2010 boundaries.

The English boundary commissioners are due to publish their initial proposals in just over a fortnight a few days before the party conference season starts.

@MikeSmithsonPB