Call to look again over boundary changes

With the new government expected to turn its attention to a review of parliamentary boundaries, one former MP has said he hopes plans that would carve up his old Mid Wales seat will be changed.

Former MP Glyn Davies has said he hopes planned boundary changes are reviewed
Former MP Glyn Davies has said he hopes planned boundary changes are reviewed

A review of the constituency boundaries was published in 2018, but has not yet been implemented.

The intention of the review is to balance out seats so that all MPs represent a similar number of voters. Currently there can be large differences in the number of electors represented, and the policy would also reduce the number of seats from 650 to 600.

It has been suggested that if the review had been implemented prior to December's election then the Conservative victory would have been event greater – with around a 100 seat margin.

Under the plans Shropshire's seats would see little change, but Montgomeryshire, now represented by Conservative Craig Williams, would be split up and moved into two other constituencies.

Glyn Davies, who held the Montgomeryshire seat for the Conservatives from 2010, until he stood down before December's election, has said he hopes the suggested boundaries are changed before the proposal is approved.

He said: "The proposals before the last two parliaments meant a reduction in number of constituencies from 650 to 600. This number benefits the Conservative Party. They also meant no new constituency population should veer from the average by more than five per cent.

"While I was an MP, I told the Whips Office that I would not vote for this because of its damaging impact on Welsh democracy. It was the only time I took such a position while an MP. Inevitably, that view was misrepresented as opposition to the principle of a constituency boundary review at all, which it was not. I would have accepted a review based on 650 constituencies with a seven or eight per cent tolerance between constituency populations. Population movements mean there must be a review, even though I realise it could have unwelcome implications for the Montgomeryshire constituency that I represented at Westminster for nearly ten years, and to which Craig Williams has just been elected.

"My opposition was (and remains) it’s implications for Wales. At present Wales is over-represented by having 40 constituencies. The population of Wales justifies 34. If there were to be only 600 constituencies, there would be just 28/29 Welsh constituencies. But the worst aspect of the change would be a lack of flexibility in Wales. Boundary commissioners would have minimal scope to take account of community or geographical factors.

"The boundaries of so many Welsh constituencies are based on the sea and neighbouring England – creating hard inflexible borders. Mid Wales would just be carved up to create numerical conformity in South and North Wales constituencies. In my view, it would hugely undermine the linkages between Welsh MPs and the constituencies they represent. While I agree a review of constituencies should proceed, I very much hope it will be on different terms from what was most recently proposed."

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