Electoral Registration and Administration Bill — New Clause on Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries — 29 Jan 2013 at 16:03
The majority of MPs voted to postpone a review of boundaries of parliamentary constituencies due to report in October 2013 until 2018; and also to postpone a review into the effect of reducing the number of constituencies (and MPs) due in 2015 until 2020.
The decision taken by the majority of MPs meant reform of constituency boundaries, or the number of constituencies/MPs would not happen before the 2015 general election.
At the time of the vote the section 10(2)(3) of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 required a Boundary Commission report following a review of constituency boundaries to be produced by October 2013.
The amendment being voted on was introduced and approved in the Lords. MPs voted on the question of if to disagree with the change made by the lords.
MPs voted on the motion:
"That this House disagrees with Lords amendment 5"
Lords amendment 5 would have added the following new clause after clause 5:
"Amendment of Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986
(1) In section 3(2)(a) of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (timing of Boundary Commission reports), for “before 1st October 2013” substitute “before 1st October 2018 but not before 1st September 2018”.
(2) In section 11(2) of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, for “1 October 2013” substitute “1 October 2018”.
(3) In section 14(3) of that Act, for “2015” (in both places) substitute “2020” .”
The Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition's agreed Programme for Government included a bill "for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies". Those MPs voting "no" in this vote were voting against this element of the coalition's agreed programme.
All Liberal Democrats voted with the majority of MPs, in favour of the postponements, despite having signed up to the coalition agreement and the majority of Liberal Democrat MPs having voted to equalise the numbers of electors per constituency and, in line with their manifesto, for fewer MPs. During the debate Liberal Democrat MP John Thurso explained his reasons:
- The electoral register should be improved and updated prior to the reviews.
- The vote is being taken in light of actual proposals for changes to constituencies without, as he puts it, "rationale of community", ie. not taking account of current county and ward boundaries.
- Reducing the number of MPs while keeping the number of members of the government the same increases the fraction of MPs who are members of the government; strengthening the government's influence over the commons.
Speaking for the Conservative party MP Andrew Lansley stated:
"Parliament agreed less than two years ago to a boundary review, and it did so for good reasons. There are major disparities in the size of constituencies. In England, East Ham has 92,000 voters; Wirral West has just 55,000. The differences are even greater in respect of other nations: Arfon in Wales has an electorate of just 41,000. This means that some votes count much more than others, and the principle of greater equality in the value of each vote is at the heart of this new boundary review. Votes should carry much more equal weight across the country in electing Members to this House and in deciding a future Government. If the current review were not to happen, in England the next general election would be based on the register of February 2000, with all the consequent disparities and in equalities which have been exacerbated since then. It would be 15 years out of date."
Labour's Sadiq Khan MP explained his support for the postponements saying:
"it would mean having more time to address the deficiencies in the current electoral register, particularly against the backdrop of the move towards individual electoral registration. The reason why that is so important is that the electoral register is the very basis on which boundaries are drawn and redrawn. It is the raw material from which the Boundary Commission constructs parliamentary constituencies. If that raw material is of poor quality, the subsequent output from the Boundary Commission will also be of questionable quality."
-  Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 - Section 10
-  Lords Amendments to the Bill as of 25 January 2013
-  The Coalition: our programme for government - Section on political reform via the National Archives
-  John Thurso MP, (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Liberal Democrat), House of Commons 29 January 2013
-  Andrew Lansley MP, (South Cambridgeshire, Conservative), House of Commons 29 January 2013
-  Sadiq Khan MP (Tooting, Labour), House of Commons 29 January 2013
Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.
What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.
What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.
|Party||Majority (No)||Minority (Aye)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||4||291 (+2 tell)||0||97.4%|
|Lab||253 (+2 tell)||0||0||98.8%|
|John Baron||Basildon and Billericay||Con (front bench)||no|
|Philip Davies||Shipley||Con (front bench)||no|
|David Davis||Haltemprice and Howden||Con||no|
|Richard Shepherd||Aldridge-Brownhills||Con (front bench)||no|