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Author Topic: And it's back again (Shrinking the House : Take Two)  (Read 1129 times)
Harry Hayfield
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« on: May 08, 2015, 04:33:32 pm »
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(Source: 2015 Conservative Manifesto)

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In the next Parliament, we will address the unfairness of the current Parliamentary boundaries, reduce the number of MPs to 600 to cut the cost of politics and make votes of more equal value. We will implement the boundary reforms that Parliament has already approved and make them apply automatically once the Boundary Commission reports in 2018

I will be buying a copy of the newspapers tomorrow and tallying up the election (both on the 2015 boundaries and the aborted 2013 boundaries) but there is nothing to stop the experts here (who I know had a wonderful time last time) creating their dream 600 seat Parliament.
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2015, 04:56:11 pm »
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Please no Mersey Banks.
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Sibboleth
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2015, 05:38:40 pm »
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I'm not sure if a two term government facing the electorate should necessarily want boundaries that would inevitably increase the impact of national swing, but politicians can be funny about these things.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2015, 08:41:38 pm »
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In the next Parliament, we will address the unfairness of the current Parliamentary boundaries, reduce the number of MPs to 600 to cut the cost of politics and make votes of more equal value. We will implement the boundary reforms that Parliament has already approved and make them apply automatically once the Boundary Commission reports in 2018

What does the bolded mean? That there will be new boundaries drawn in 2018 according to the new rules? Or rather that the aborted last round of districts will just be put into place?
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MaxQue
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2015, 11:03:31 pm »
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In the next Parliament, we will address the unfairness of the current Parliamentary boundaries, reduce the number of MPs to 600 to cut the cost of politics and make votes of more equal value. We will implement the boundary reforms that Parliament has already approved and make them apply automatically once the Boundary Commission reports in 2018

What does the bolded mean? That there will be new boundaries drawn in 2018 according to the new rules? Or rather that the aborted last round of districts will just be put into place?

I suppose it means than the Boundary Commission reports will be the law, without the Parliament having to pass the reports themselves.
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kcguy
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2015, 03:52:40 pm »
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I wasn't opposed to the law, but I was opposed to the stupid way the Boundary Commission chose to implement it.

According to the law, as I understand it, constituency electorates had to be within 3500 or so of the regional average.  And the Commission tried to accomplish this by gluing together wards with populations of around 10,000.  Is there any wonder why some of these constituencies had such weird shapes?  I mean, seriously, can't the Commission come up with more reasonably-sized building blocks?

And Mersey Banks was the result of arbitrary rules the Commission imposed upon itself.  First, they declared that there weren't enough links between the Wirral and Liverpool.  (I mean, the only things connecting the two are a couple of tunnels used by thousands of commuters and maybe a subway system, but that's obviously not enough justification for crossing a water barrier like the Mersey.) 

So, the Commission reviewed the Wirral with Cheshire instead.  And then once they were irretrievably committed down this path, they declared that the city of Chester, sitting at the base of the Wirral peninsula, had to remain intact, so they had only a narrow piece of land to connect Bebington to northwestern Cheshire.  Dumber and dumberer.

My only real objection to the law itself was that while the number of seats was reduced, the Isle of Wight was suddenly guaranteed 2 seats.

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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2015, 08:12:11 am »
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I wasn't opposed to the law, but I was opposed to the stupid way the Boundary Commission chose to implement it.

According to the law, as I understand it, constituency electorates had to be within 3500 or so of the regional average.  And the Commission tried to accomplish this by gluing together wards with populations of around 10,000.  Is there any wonder why some of these constituencies had such weird shapes?  I mean, seriously, can't the Commission come up with more reasonably-sized building blocks?

Yes, in England this was the main problem.  The proposals in Scotland, where they were happy to split wards, were much better, and Wales had one really horrible seat (the Denbighshire/Montgomeryshire one) which was probably forced by the geography and the size constraints, but apart from that the proposals weren't too bad.

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And Mersey Banks was the result of arbitrary rules the Commission imposed upon itself.  First, they declared that there weren't enough links between the Wirral and Liverpool.  (I mean, the only things connecting the two are a couple of tunnels used by thousands of commuters and maybe a subway system, but that's obviously not enough justification for crossing a water barrier like the Mersey.) 

So, the Commission reviewed the Wirral with Cheshire instead.  And then once they were irretrievably committed down this path, they declared that the city of Chester, sitting at the base of the Wirral peninsula, had to remain intact, so they had only a narrow piece of land to connect Bebington to northwestern Cheshire.  Dumber and dumberer.

They had proposed a Liverpool/Wirral link in the previous review, and there was an outcry.  I never checked whether the maths worked out for it in the abandoned one, but really Mersey Banks was the result of the ward splitting problem mentioned above: it wasn't hard to propose something more sensible if you were prepared to split a ward or two, and some people did.

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My only real objection to the law itself was that while the number of seats was reduced, the Isle of Wight was suddenly guaranteed 2 seats.

Yes, I think 2 was the right number (if it was going to be an integer) given the Isle's electorate at the time, but putting it into law was just silly.

I would have preferred it if the rules were flexible enough to allow most ceremonial counties in England to be treated on their own.  Something like 5% deviation in general, but 10% if that allows you to keep a county intact; that would certainly have been enough to avoid "Devonwall" and the Notts/Leics border seat.

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Harry Hayfield
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2015, 09:41:57 am »
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These are the electorates (and averages) for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland: 1,236,687 = 18 seats = 68,705 electors per seat
Scotland: 4,099,926 = 59 seats = 69,490 electors per seat
Wales: 2,282,297 = 40 seats = 57,057 electors per seat
Average so far: 7,618,910 = 117 seats = 65,118 electors per seat

England (by it's sheer size) will take a lot longer to tally but when I have done, I shall post the regional tallies
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Harry Hayfield
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2015, 03:56:23 am »
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I have managed to complete the calculations (based on the estimates that Electoral Calculus did) of the proposed 600 seat house and this is how that election would have turned out:

Conservatives 317 seats (+21 seats)
Labour 209 seats (-25 seats)
Scottish National Party 51 seats (+45 seats)
Democratic Unionist Party 8 seats (unchanged)
Sinn Fein 5 seats (unchanged)
Liberal Democrats 3 seats (-44 seats)
Plaid Cymru 3 seats (+2 seats)
SDLP 2 seats (unchanged)
Green Party 1 seat (+1 seat)
Independent 1 seat (unchanged)
Conservative majority of 34

The gains from the notional election of 2010 and 2015 are (excluding Scotland which saw the SNP win every single seat bar Orkney and Shetland)

Con GAINS: Balham and Tooting (Lab), Bath (Lib Dem), Battersea and Vauxhall (Lab), Berwick, Alnwick and Morpeth (Lib Dem), Bodmin and St. Austell (Lib Dem), Bolton West (Lab), Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery (Lib Dem), Carshalton and Couldson (Lib Dem), Cheadle (Lib Dem), Cheltenham (Lib Dem), Colchester (Lib Dem), Devon North (Lib Dem), Eastbourne (Lib Dem), Eastleigh (Lib Dem), Gloucestershire South East (Lib Dem), Hampton (Lib Dem), Hazel Grove and Poyton (Lib Dem), Kingston and Surbiton (Lib Dem), Norfolk North (Lib Dem), Plymouth Devonport (Lab), Richmond and Twickenham (Lib Dem), Solihull (Lib Dem), Somerton and Frome (Lib Dem), Southampton Itchen (Lab), Southport (Lib Dem), St. Ives (Lib Dem), Stockton South (Lab), Sutton and Cheam (Lib Dem), Taunton (Lib Dem), Torbay (Lib Dem), Truro and Newquay (Lib Dem), Yeovil (Lib Dem)
Lab GAINS: Bermondsey and South Bank (Lib Dem), Bristol West (Lib Dem), Cambridge (Lib Dem), Cardiff Central (Lib Dem), Chester (Con), Croydon East (Con), Dewsbury (Con), Enfield North (Con), Hornsey and Wood Green (Lib Dem), Hove (Con), Luton North and Dunstable (Con), Manchester Withington (Lib Dem), Norwich South (Lib Dem), Otley (Con), Redcar (Lib Dem), Sheffield Hallam and Penistone (Lib Dem), Shipley (Con), Southampton Test (Con), Willesden (Lib Dem), Wirral Deeside (Con),
Green GAINS: Brighton, Pavillion (Lab)
Plaid GAINS: Carmarthen (Lab), Ynys Môn ac Bangor (Lab),
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Kevinstat
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2016, 08:55:28 pm »
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I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the Electoral roll numbers as of 1 December 2015 (which will be the basis of the next review), by country, local authority and ward.  Once that data comes in, people will be able to play around with the redistricting with actual "hard" numbers (I don't see why we need to wait until the Boundary Commissions make their provisional recommendations).

My focus is on Northern Ireland, which looks like it will have 16 MPs (it barely would have had 16 in the abortive last review, but I think that was after the changes to the electoral register had happened in Northern Ireland but before they happened elsewhere in the UK).  I kind of hope it drops to 15 or only drops to 17 which might allow for slightly neater lines in that area (with 16 you'll have to have a major crossing of either the Bann or the Blackwater, although that might be the case with 15 or 17 as well).  That would also be different from what people like Nicholas Whyte have already drawn plans for during the abortive last review.
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Diouf
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2016, 05:18:36 am »
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In terms of electoral reform, there might also be a change in the European Elections.
In the beginning of March, there will be the second reading in the House of Commons on a bill to make provision for an open list system for elections to the European Parliament.

A LSE study from 2013 showed that such a change would mean that support for UKIP would decrease, and the overall vote share for the Conservative party would increase as voters could choose very Eurosceptic Conservatives instead of UKIP if they were to be sure that their vote would benefit a Eurosceptic candidate. Also, it should lead to candidates and MEP increasing their constituency work and building a stronger local profile.

Since this will probably benefit the Conservatives, I guess there should be a good chance of it being passed. I guess the opposition MPs in favour of general election reform would also see this as a step forward.

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/europeanparliamentelections.html

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/07/27/european-parliament-open-list/
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 02:15:30 pm by Diouf »Logged

TimTurner
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2016, 10:23:31 am »
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Has the size of the House of Commons ever shrank before?
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warandwar
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2016, 12:30:00 pm »
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Has the size of the House of Commons ever shrank before?
Pride's Purge comes to mind.
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Kevinstat
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2016, 01:26:50 pm »
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Has the size of the House of Commons ever shrank before?

Ever is a long time.  Starting from the "co-option" of the first Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and (all of) Ireland in 1801, there were 658 MPs then.  The number bounced around in the 650s in the mid- to late 19th century (the last decrease being from 658 to 652 in 1874) but only increased after that (going to 670 in 1885 and 717 in 1918) until what is now the Republic of Ireland, which then had 75 seats broke away (originally as the Irish Free State under the crown).  The House of Commons thus was at 642 MPs going into the 1922 election, but declined further in that election to 615 as Northern Ireland, which now had a Parliament of it's own, was stripped of 17 MPs to go from 30 seats to 13.

The size of the House of Commons rose to 640 for the 1945 election, but dropped to 625 by the next election in 1950 as the Labour Government abolished the University MPs among other changes.  After 1950, the next reduction was from 659 seats to 646 in 2005 as the era of Scottish overrepresentation in the House of Commons was ended now that it had a its own parliament with devolved powers.  The reduction and redrawing of Scottish seats was part of the same Fifth Periodic Review of Parliamentary constituencies as the rest of the UK, but only in Scotland was the review completed in time for the 2005 elections.  Even if all four constituent countries had had their changes go into effect for the same election, though, there still would have been a reduction in the size of the House of Commons as it only rose from 646 to 650 as a result of the Fifth Periodic Review outside Scotland.

It's possible that the number of non-university MPs in England has only increased since sometime in the 19th century, but I'm not sure and anyway this should make it clear that the size of the House of Commons has gone down before.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 01:28:50 pm by Kevinstat »Logged
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2016, 08:58:27 am »
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If one likes the admittedly arbitrary cube root rule, the size of the Commons ought to be around 400 seats.
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2016, 10:52:00 am »
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In a country as centralised as the UK though, you really need quite a big House for the job to be done (unless you create regional assemblies, but most English people don't want that.)
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« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2016, 11:59:14 am »
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Ugh, what a horrible idea. Legislatures all over the world are dramatically smaller than they should be, and the British House was one of the few that wasn't too bad...
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