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With all the focus on Brexit, everyone has gone very quiet about the proposed reduction in the number of Commons seats to 600 and the long-overdue implementation of boundary changes to even out the size of different constituencies. Is this still on the agenda? Is there a legal requirement for the government to implement the independent recommendations of the Boundary Commission? When is it likely to happen?

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The Boundary Commission presented their final report to Parliament in Sept 2018.

The next stage is for the Government to create a statutory instrument from the findings and present it, unamended, to Parliament. Parliament can then approve or reject the changes through voting on the instrument. If approved, the changes will be applied at the next General Election.

As such, the Government isn't required to implement the changes unless it's voted for by Parliament. I also don't believe they are legally bound to present the Commission findings to Parliament for a vote though I haven't confirmed this yet.

Currently, the new Government has not stated when, or if, it will put the changes to the Houses in this Parliament. From an initial reading of the Queen's Speech, it doesn't appear that it's a priority for the Government although they aren't required to detail everything they plan to do.

In the previous Parliament the changes would, almost definitely, have been rejected because opposition parties would be worse off and a number of Conservative MPs would have lost their seats. So there was no majority.

In the new Parliament, it would almost definitely pass if the Government put it forward as their majority is so large. This analysis of the boundary changes suggests that the Conservative Party would have an increased majority if the changes were implemented, even taking into account the overall seat reduction.

  • Thank you. I find it remarkably odd (bordering on corruption) that the decision on whether and when to implement the changes can be affected by the personal and political interests of MPs. – Michael Kay Dec 19 '19 at 18:59
  • @MichaelKay Far more scandalous is that the parameters of the review itself were set by those same self-interested MPs. While not outright gerrymandering, it is widely rumoured that the Conservatives picked the parameters most likely to lead to them gaining seats. (Parameters include the target number of seats, and the constraint that constituencies follow council ward boundaries wherever possible.) – IMSoP Dec 20 '19 at 17:35

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