By Jonathan Isaby
After changes to various countries' representation in the European Parliament as a result of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK will be allocated one additional seat. In a written statement yesterday, Mark Harper relayed the decision from the Electoral Commission that the additional MEP will be from the West Midlands.
Harper's statement explained:
"Under the terms of the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003, the Electoral Commission in making this recommendation was obliged to ensure that the ratio of electors to MEPs is as nearly as possible the same in each electoral region... The recommendation is that the extra seat should be allocated to the west midlands electoral region. I am grateful to the Electoral Commission for its work in producing this recommendation which, in its usual way, it has undertaken entirely independently and without regard to the outcome.
"The Government will include the necessary provisions to implement the Electoral Commission’s recommendation in the forthcoming European Union Bill, as indicated in the Minister for Europe’s statement of 13 September 2010... The Bill will also provide that the seat will be filled by reference to the results of the west midlands region at the last European parliamentary elections held on 4 June 2009, as if the extra seat had been available in the west midlands electoral region in those elections."
"Subject to parliamentary approval, the additional UK MEP provided for by the transitional protocol will be elected once the relevant provisions in the European Union Bill have entered into force, and once all EU member states have ratified the transitional protocol. The protocol cannot enter into force, and the additional MEPs provided for by the protocol cannot take up their seats, until all member states have ratified the protocol."
The effect of giving the West Midlands an extra seat is that there will be an additional Conservative MEP, with Anthea McIntyre being the next name on the party's list in the region - although given the process described above, I am not sure preciselty when she can expect to take her seat.
Anthea has a long history of political activism in the West Midlands, having first been elected to Hereford and Worcester Council in 1977 and chaired the European campaign in the region in 1999. She has also been a parliamentary candidate in the region in Warley West (1983), Redditch (1997) and Shrewsbury and Atcham (2001).