The Boundary Commission for Scotland yesterday published its Initial Proposals for United Kingdom Parliament constituencies in Scotland as part of its Sixth Review. This marks the start of a 12 week public consultation process on the proposals, lasting from Thursday 13th October 2011 to Wednesday 4th January 2012.
Parliament has decided to reduce the number of UK Parliament constituencies from 650 to 600. In Scotland this means that there will be 52 constituencies instead of 59. Of these, 2 constituencies are defined in the legislation: Na h-Eileanan an lar, and Orkney and Shetland. The remaining 50 constituencies must each have between 72, 810 and 80,473 electors. The Commission has also had to ensure that no constituency exceeds the maximum permitted area of 13,000 square kilometres. The requirements set by Parliament limit the number of possible constituency designs.
Due to the reduction in the number of constituencies and the requirement for nearly equal numbers of electors in each constituency, it has not been possible to leave constituencies as they currently are. In developing its Initial Proposals across Scotland, the Commission has tried to minimise the number of constituencies which combine parts of different council areas. The Commission has had to divide 29 local government wards, each between 2 constituencies. When dividing wards, the Commission has followed community council boundaries or other recognisable boundaries.
Hugh Buchanan, Secretary to the Commission said “The Commission has worked intensively to design this set of constituencies, which we believe provide a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament. We now want to get people’s views on these Proposals so we can improve them where the legislation allows us to do so. The number of Scotland’s constituencies is reducing from 59 to 52, with each mainland constituency having very nearly the same number of electors.”
The Boundary commission for Scotland has also made available papers and minutes from its meetings when it discussed these proposals.
Further information on the Commission’s Initial Proposals can be found on the Commission’s website
Notes for Editors
The Sixth Review of UK Parliament Constituencies was announced on 4th March 2011, and is required by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. It is being conducted simultaneously by the 4 parliamentary Boundary Commissions in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The review is to report before 1st October 2013 so that the new constituencies can be available for use in the General Election expected in May 2015.
Across the UK, the number of constituencies is being reduced from 650 to 600. In Scotland there will be a decrease from 59 to 52 constituencies, with similar reductions in each part of the UK: England 502 in place of the current 533; Wales 30 in place of the current 40; and Northern Ireland 16 in place of the current 18.
The smallest permitted electorate for a constituency is 72, 810 and the largest permitted electorate is 80,473. In Scotland, exceptions to these electorate limits apply for Na h-Eileanan an lar constituency (the Western Isles), and Orkney and Shetland constituency, each of which are defined in the legislation. An exception to the minimum electorate requirement can be made if a constituency is larger than 12,000 square kilometres which can only occur in very sparsely populated areas. The electorate for this review is taken from the electoral register published on 1st December 2010.
Information on the Proposals is available on the Commission’s website, and is being distributed to over 170 libraries and council offices around the country. 5 Public Hearings are being held around Scotland during November.