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13.09.11

Senior MPs’ seats threatened by Boundary Commission review

The Boundary Commission review into cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and equalizing seat sizes is worrying many politicians in Westminster this morning as they chew over the impacts on their own constituencies and majorities.

A rough analysis of the changes would see the Lib Dems losing proportionally the most seats – as many as 10 – while the Conservatives would benefit most.

Under Coalition plans demanded by the Conservatives in return for agreeing to the Lib Dems’ AV referendum, there will be radical changes to seats to correct what the party sees as a bias against them, as the average Labour seat is urban and contains fewer voters than rural seats.

MPs in England and Northern Ireland could be fighting party colleagues for their seats ahead of the expected 2015 election. Plans for Wales and Scotland are set to follow.

The Government says the changes will cut the cost of politics by £12m, and make the system fairer by standardising the number of registered voters in each constituency, meaning each will take the same level of effort for an MP to win the seat, and reducing both under- and over-representation of a particular party.

MPs whose seats are affected by the shake-up could apply for selection in a new seat whose boundaries closely resemble their old one, go up against another MP for the right to represent a different seat, or succeed any MP who chooses to retire.

Ministers’ seats facing major changes or abolition in England include Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Prime Minister David Cameron is one of the 77 unaffected by the plans, along with Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The changes can be appealed by MPs or the public during a 12-week consultation until December. The Boundary Commission will publish revised proposals next year before being submitted to Parliament for approval by October 2013 – although there are already doubts that the Government will be able to get the changes passed, with so many MPs standing to lose out personally.

The Commission's secretary Simon James said: “Parliament has set clear rules on what we can and can't do when it comes to developing our initial proposals. The Commission was given clear principles and from that starting point we have found a solution that we think best meets Parliament's rules. Now we want to know what people think of our initial proposals.”

The full details of allocated English seats, compared to 2010, are:

South East England: 83 seats (-1)
North West England: 68 (-7)
London: 68 seats (-5)
Eastern England: 56 seats (-2)
Yorkshire and Humber: 50 seats (-4)
West Midlands: 54 seats (-5)
South West England: 53 seats (-2)
East Midlands: 44 seats (-2)
North East England: 26 seats (-3)

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