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This is excellent stuff. But only a start.

We still need to deal with the Lords.

Personally I do not believe that the Commons is such an exemplary legislative body that a unicameral parliament is justified. We need a House of Lords with some clout. That has been proven time and again over the years.

I don't see any reason why we could not have the majority of peers elected in some way.

But what Mr Cameron proposes is an excellent start.

If people are still represented then it can do no harm and will cut cost too so good I say.

I wait with some reservation whether we'll see structural changes in the electoral system too which beggars belief that we've been through all this crap and seen so many horrible changes when there was only an 800,000 difference between the parties last time and that nothing of the lost or fraudulent votes which together amounted to 500,000, affected anything of Labour's preposterous 'majority' which patently doesn't reflect the views of the overall majority of the country by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, I think it would be a good thing to bring forward some legislation which makes a General Election mandatory within a given time if a PM resigns as regardless of what system we have it remains essential that the people MUST be given an opportunity to show their support for a new face leading our country.

I agree that this is a good idea in principle. However it would have to be framed in a way that would not seek to find party political advantage to the Conservative party . We are, (or should be) better than that.Unlike Labour.

On first thought, I would prefer the bigger seats to become smaller rather than the smaller ones bigger - more people making the decisions.
But at the size it is then I think it can handle a cut to both be economical and streamline without affecting the quality of the debate.
But getting the message across without sounding like it's only done for the conservatives political advantage (well, political fairness really) will be hard as I'm sure labour think they deserve to have it skewed in their direction as we're all evil racists or somesuch - let's see what they come up with.

Or as the Telegraph has it on its report of the FT story re seats: “David Cameron’s feeble thinking leaves Tories at risk of


And these are your friends!

More power in fewer hands (less MP's) and nationalised political parties (extension to state funding).

Less MP's means less irksome dissenters too.

Cameron is just another member of the political class increasing the power of government.

He is the anti-libertarian, helping to continue NL's work.

Whatever the electoral outcome it is hard to disagree with Cameron's thinking.

Seats should contain nearly equal numbers of voters. There are too many MPs, many of whom are simply place men who vote on command.

We actually need to cut the number of MPs in Westminster to a third of its current number.

The other two-thirds can then form a devolved English Parliament.

Brilliant idea - but can you imagine the bloodbath that selections are going to turn into?!

I thought the Boundaries Commission changes the boundaries to reflect the changing population figures, therefore its in its core aim to make the seats of about equal size when amending boundaries. Sounds like the Conservatives getting even to make up for the fact that it just wasnt good enough in the past to win the elections. No electoral system is perfect. A key flaw in this is that with a constant flux in the population in areas the boundaries will never always be equal across the country.

At some point our cash strapped voters who have experienced downsizing at work will look at the House of Commons and ask if the country really does need all those legislators, or all that legislation.

A cut in the number of MPs will resonate with the population and might make other unpalatable but necessary cuts more acceptable.

Check out this link and look at the caption below the photo of Cameron - I think it says EVERYTHING about the state of the Daily Telegraph !


I don't think even the most hardened socialist could possibly argue that the current distributions of seats / votes is fair - and besides, I thought the Left were always happy to promote some equality!

"If Mr Cameron was able to enact these changes in the first term it would make a huge difference to the chances of re-election."

Are you serious, Tim?!

So you are basically saying Cameron should gerrymander his way to a second term?

I thought better of you :(

Excellent idea, its high time Parliament represented the make up of the country. In regards to the Telegraph, who cares.. the paper is a mess owned by two extremely disappointing excuses for human beings, the faster the paper can be expunged from all association with the party the better.

The caption on the Telegraph picture is somewhat odd - bears little relation to the article - was it cut and pasted from another piece by a dozy sub?

Posted by: Big Jock Knew | January 13, 2009 at 09:39


Murray Wardrop appears on the surface to be an 'independent' and 'unbiased' journalist but his articles are anything but.

Comstock I thought better of you! It's not gerrymandering to fix a gerrymandered status quo. If we took your advice, we'd still have rotten boroughs. Oh. We do.

If you were willing to abolish the principle of the Secret Ballot. Why couldn't we run Parliament like any business is run. Every full citizen having a "share" which they can give to someone to use as a proxy or use themselves.

Perhaps this is how the "Senate", for if it is elected it can't really be called the House of Lords, could make its decision.

Thank you Big Jock New (and the two contacts who emailed me) - I've now started a separate thread on the Telegraph's blunder:


Comstock: Rubbish my friend! The system is unfair now. This is putting things right. How can you object to fair-sized seats?

Absoutely. It will help weed out the gap-fillers who draw a salary, but who are more interested in furthering their own prospects than serving the electorate.

Another thing I would like to see happening is making it possible for people to vote for their own constituency in more than one place. This is a particular issue in Northern Ireland where a lot of people live in Belfast during the week but are registered to vote at home, so they have to choose between going to work/university during the week and voting. This particularly affects younger people.

All seats the same size ? The widely scattered rural seats - more than 10 times as large in size as some of your rural seats ? The only way to equalise the number of electors to the number of MPs is by a list system - STV ?

60 fewer MPS ! Conservativehome looks for 100 more Tory peers ! Please explain .

Quick correction - "more than 10 times as large in size as some of your CITY seats.

Don't be silly, Comstock! Graeme's beaten me to it and put it much better than I would have done - but in any event I think Tim means that Cameron's estimation in the eyes of the public would increase!

Concentration of power is an overwhelming characteristic of a global elite.

Surely it would be vastly better to head in the opposite direction by having more democratically elected MP's, with smaller constituencies, but cutting back on the vast excess of unelected supporting roles?

It would give the electorate more say in the make up of Parliament, and force these MP's to get their hands dirty and do more of the work themselves, whilst also saving loads of money.

More MP's would mean more localism, fewer will result in more disconnection from the electorate.

Less democratically elected officials simply means less choice, and helps to preserve the status quo.

Alternatively we could do without Parliament altogether, since everything of importance is, or will soon be, decided in Brussels.

We could also “retire” the Monarchy since this is soon to be superseded by the EU President (President Blair and First Lady Cherie).

"I believe in having seats that are the same size all across the country,” Mr Cameron told the FT.

When Cammo says "the country" does he mean the UK or just England or just England and Wales. Please explain. To reduce the number of seats in England only would exacerbate further the present inequality and make even more pronounced the grotesque bias in the system which is at the very root of Labour's power. The 60 reduction must therefore be across the whole UK.

It goes without saying that the sizes of seats should be approximately equal across the entire United Kingdom and it also goes without saying that any reform ,which is hugely overdue, must apply to THE VERY NEXT ELECTION AFTER THIS ONE. Why there should be any suggestion that we should await for the elction beyond that I cannot imagine.

I am assuming that the reduction of 60 seats in the overall number (647?) applies to a pan-UK population calculation but of course this brings us head-on into the very nature of the United Kingdom, of unequal devolution and England's lack of any specific national representation ie of a parliament and self government.

The US manages with a little over 400 Representatives (and 100 Senators who are people of real stature). Why can't we do the same?

I don't believe that the imbalance in seat population is necessary. Firstly, with modern transport, an MP can drive round his constituency quite easily. Secondly, if it is more difficult to cover a rural seat - why not make MPs expense allowances variable, depending in part on the size of their seat? Then they could employ more people to help them.

Additionally - I believe one problem is that the Boundaries Commission process is far too slow and by the time the boundaries have been reviewed, population has shifted again. It really does need to be done in each Parliament, with the new boundaries effective from the next election. Or, it needs to take account of future projected population flows, which I believe is the case with local authority boundaries.

I wonder what Their Majesties The Queen of The Netherlands and The King of Spain would have to say about that, David_at_Home?

Why not reduce Parliament to 400 MPs and save more? Most of our laws come from the EU, what on earth do MPs do other than lick the boots of their leader?

MPs should be elected proportionately, as in Scotland and the whole of Europe, it's only fair.

Scots MPs must be banned from voting on issues in England they have not even been elected to handle in Scotland. (I write as a Scot.)

The Lords should be party free and made up of 100 directly elected independent members with revising powers only. If Parliament needs lots of experts then have these as advisers, do not give them a lifetime vote over the rest of us who have never elected them.

Local councils should also be massively reduced in size and independent of national parties. They should raise and spend nearly all their own funding under their own steam. They should consist of, say, 7 full time, paid individuals with no party or national connections, elected town-wide. We'd have far superior local politics if we did this - at the moment we elect (in pathetic numbers) thousands of nonentities with no profile or responsibility and who have virtually no say in policy anyway.


Also the Monarchies of Sweden and Denmark.

You would be very welcome to join the counterrevolution against the Brussels Bonapartists and I’m sure Nigel Farage would welcome you aboard.

What shall we do with the Emperor Blair, when we win?

James Maskell - Yes, the Boundaries Commission does aim to produce seats of roughly the same size whilst respecting county, historical and natural boundaries. However, therre are a number of reasons why they fail to achieve that.

Firstly, Scotland and Wales have their own Boundaries Commissions. In Scotland, they are supposed to aim for the same size of seat as England. This means they should have 55 seats. There will actually be 59 Scottish seats at the next election.

In Wales the situation is even worse. They are supposed to keep the number of seats approximately unchanged. Also, by law (passed in Margaret Thatcher's time), they must have at least 35 seats. There will actually be 40 Welsh seats at the next election. For equal constituency sizes, there should only be 32.

Another factor is that the Boundaries Commission works with historical data. It does not consider population drift. There is a long term drift from poorer (Labour supporting) areas to richer (Conservative supporting) ones. This means that, over time, the boundaries become more unfair to the Conservatives.

Having said all of that, unequal constituency sizes is not the only factor behind the apparent unfairness in the electoral system. Calculations such as the one Tim gives (34 majority on a 10% lead compared with a Labour majority of 136 on a similar lead) are based on uniform national swing. We know that breaks down when there is a large swing. We saw that in 1997 when Labour ended up with a much larger majority than that predicted by UNS. I would similarly expect that a 10% lead for the Conservatives would translate into a much bigger majority than the 34 Tim quotes. There was a lot of anti-Conservative tactical voting in 1997 which continued, albeit on a reduced scale, in 2001 and 2005. I expect that to unwind at the next election.

A related factor is that it seems Labour supporters are happy to vote LibDem to prevent the Conservative candidate winning but Conservative supporters do not vote LibDem to prevent the Labour candidate winning. This means Labour do better in Lab/LibDem marginals than the Conservatives do in Con/LibDem marginals. I am part of the problem here - I would never vote LibDem.

Support distribution and differential turnout are also issues affecting the outcome. These both lead to the Conservatives being more likely than Labour to pile up votes in safe seats where they aren't needed, which again reduces the number of seats won for a given percentage of the vote.

Having said all of that, I think these are excellent proposals from Cameron.

This is excellent news, and I'm glad that David Cameron has this foresight.

Is it true democracy when Labour can win a majority of 60 with 35% of the Vote?

Devolution means that England should at the very minimum share the same voice in Parliament as the rest of the UK.

This would be good for England, good for the Conservatives and most importantly fair. Well done ConservativeHome for a successful campaign.

"MPs should be elected proportionately, as in Scotland and the whole of Europe, it's only fair."

This would just give more power to the party elite (who would decide who to put on the list) and take power away from the electors (who would no longer be able to vote for or against the individual candidates). The party elites would, of course, soon decide that their lists should contain “single mums”, “gays”, BMEs etc. regardless of whether or not their views are in tine with the electorate. If you don’t belive me then consider Cameron’s “A” List

Thank you for your kind invitation, David, but sadly I must decline! As for what to do with the Emperor Blair, I think he will be quite happily occupied visiting the various villas of his numerous friends and procuring numerous freebies.

This is a wheeze that William Hague scouted as leader. It was not discussed properly then, as it was just one of several wheezes that together made sure we would not be elected in 2001. Perhaps we can see his influence now – and now there is a risk that it will seriously undermine the image that Cameron has put so much store by.

If the Boundary Commission is not doing its job properly (as we in Devon might suspect after the first appeal against their decision since heaven knows when) or if its rules in Wales are different from those in England, then it should get a clearer brief. That is no reason to change the numbers of MPs.

While seeking to save money on the cost of MPs, Mr Cameron shows no sign of recognising that we have far too many (expensive) officials. He could at least acknowledge that they massively outweigh our elected representatives at all levels. There is a democratic deficit and this is a deliberate move to make it worse. No constituency chairman will see the benefit of a larger constituency. Each voter will see that his MP will represent him a little less than the little he is already aware of.

There is the suggestion that constituencies are for the first time to cross county boundaries. At least in the provinces, the counties and their boundaries are culturally important - politically too (in a way that the fast operators in Westminster would scorn) because the counties provide a direct link through the Lords Lieutenant to the monarch. Not even the coarse, expensive and destructive drive to Unitary government crosses those boundaries.

We have no business to consider central funding of political parties. The suggestion that this will come as an efficiency dividend out of the gerrymander is double poison for democracy.

This whole wheeze only makes sense to a party management that regards the responsiveness of MPs to their management as far more important than their responsiveness to their constituents. In this the Conservative leadership is simply wrong.

As only about twenty per cent of our laws are made here, we only require that proportion of MPs, say 120. They would only be needed to stay on and rubbber stamp what comes out of Brussels until the EU takes us over completely. Then they could be pensioned off and the House of Commons turned into a tourist attraction. The Monarchy would go, president Blair and family installed in Buckingham Palace, and we would of course, drive on the right, salute the EU flag and stand to attention for its national anthem.

Excellent! But this should only be a start. There should be a rule - rather than a convention - that the Speaker does not come from the party forming the government. And how about a fixed term for Parliament?

Also, can we please have an Act to say that we'll not accept any further impingement on our sovereignty from Brussels without a referendum? Then, even if the Lisbon Treaty is in force by the time the Conservatives come to power, we can limit the damage.

Posted by: Edward Huxley | January 13, 2009 at 11:43


For the Hitler salute the right arm is raised at an angle of about 45 degrees above the horizontal and slightly sideways to the right, and is almost always accompanied by the exclamation of the words Heil Hitler! said in a firm and usually loud voice. If standing in front of a superior the heels might be clicked simultaneously. At rallies and meetings the arms of the crowd may also be raised while rhythmically shouting Sieg Heil.

I have always favoured taking a leaf out of the US system, and having an upper chamber based on geographic rather than demographic areas. That balances out the dictatorship of the cities to the country.

I would also make it consitutional law that any legislation that changes our freedoms should go to a referendum to be carried by 2/3 majority. That would stuff the noisy minority that want to tell us what to eat and whether we can go out.

Rupert, I believe that there are already cross-county constituencies. The example closest to home is our neighbouring constituency of Brigg & Goole (one of our targets), which straddles the Lincolnshire/East Yorkshire border.

I think a reduction in the number of MPs in sensible, along with a reduction in their pay and perks. However, this needs to be accompanied with greater powers being devolved to local councils and communities, and better still, more power in the hands of the individual!

If Cameron wraps up the subject of fewer MPs, lower pay for MPs, fewer politicians and more power to individuals, he can present it as a ower giveaway, returning power to the people at the expense of politicians. That would be a winning formula.

I think there probable are too many MPs and a reduction seems a sensible suggestion. It does, however, have at least one obvious drawback. That is that if the size of government remains the same then the Government will overdominate the House of Commons to an even greater degree than is presently the case, possibly leading the House of Lords to play hard ball more often since it may be the only proper source of parliamentary opposition. This would cause its own problems.
I believe that the size of government needs to be reduced, but then I believe that irrespective of whether we should have fewer MPs or not.
I also agree that we should have more powers devolved to local authorities, though I should like to see something like a Royal Commission look thoroughly at issues surrounding structure, function and funding before any powers are devolved (and that would include the future of the devolved assemblies).
I give this, therefore, a cautious welcome and applaud the principle - I just hope that it is done properly.

This is a pretty crude proposal. It shouldn't only be about the number of electors in any given constituency but also the geography of that constituency and the need of the population which has a direct impact on the workload of the MP.
Given projected increases in UK population is it sensible to be cutting down on the number of MPs?

Now Rugfish (@ 11:52) - don't be a Naughty Little Fish! You've been talking too much to that Mr Hannan, haven't you? ;-(

As a democratic socialist of course I think the current system is unfair. The equalising of constituency sizes is a good first step, but does it necessarily have to tie in with a reduction in the number of MPs? If the reason for the reduction is purely cost-cutting then effectively you are putting a price on democracy which cannot be right.

One by-product of Mr Cameron's proposal is that it further undermines the philosophy behind FPTP, that of the MP-constituency link. So, I urge him to be bolder and go for full electoral reform. Proportional representation, fixed-termed Parliaments, and a fully elected second chamber please!

The only flaw in your otherwise excellent plan is that Cameron has only pledged to reduce the number of MP's, not reduce their power (devolving powers down locally), making his plan the opposite of your idea, a concentration of power.

By the way, a few days ago one of the posters here commented about my name. My response is here > http://warelane.wordpress.com/

Once again it seems that a simplistic and logically perfect solution to a long standing issue comes up against the realities of life.

Of course the Boundaries Commission should strive for equal representation, and it could do better, but it has to recognise that people have their own, strong, views regarding the community into which officialdom places them.

You can’t just divide up the population into equal parts and get a computer to draw lines on a map enclosing the required number of people.

Here is Watford we are categorised in so many ways that it is a matter or resentment causing unfathomable confusion regarding responsibilities and providing fertile ground for local political mischief. Taking just the parliamentary boundaries as an example we are still unable to properly “integrate” the wards that were moved from South West Herts years ago. The people concerned just don’t recognise the reclassification and fundamentally don’t accept it. The reason, I suspect, is that what was agreed was, to my certain knowledge, the result of political horse trading concerned with electoral advantage with no regard paid to local sensitivities

The sense of community and belonging is complex and can depend on a host of factors. No conservative government should be seen to ride roughshod over these issues. If the conservatives had come out with a well thought out proposal setting out the detail and making clear precisely how it could be managed then it would probably gain considerable support but it just seems like a threat of more chaos and social disruption.

I'm a little tied up on this to be honest. I can see where David Cameron is coming from on this and that parliament should have to balance its books, and that it should become more effiecient in representing people by merging constituencies together, creating a fairer society. However I see the biggest obstacle to fairness in British politics being acheived is devolution.

Whilst I accept devolution to NI is justified by bringing peace etc, I do not believe devolution to Wales or Scotland is justitified. Whilst in past history there has been negative relations between England, Wales and Scotland, there has also has been many positives coming out the of the Union. I believe that we already had devolution before the actual term of "devolution" was actually implemented, this is in our local councils.

Through an effective council system people in whatever area they come from, have devolution specific to them on local issues, such as council tax, bin collection etc. Whilst there are issues over where central government is located i.e Westminister etc, I personally don't think general the electorate care where central government is located, it only becomes an issue when governments let down certain parts of the UK. Devolution was a quick fix to issues faced by government, and not all this can be attributed to the Labour Party. Wales became very detached under Thatcher and Major.

If the Conservative Party want to strike a cord with the electorate, then the topic of Devolution, is more of a pressing issue rather than thinking about removing MP's from parliament. A clear strategy for winning seats in Scotland and Wales is needed if we are serious about defending the Union.

Also worth a note if financial accountability wants to be implemented in parliament, then we need clear policies on salaries and possible wage caps, expenses, and how we are going to reign in a civil service that is spiraling out of control.

Here are two obvious examples:

(1) Darlington, Lab majority 10,000. Add the 4 rural wards of the borough (currently in Sedgefield) and you have a genuine marginal. Abolish Sedgefield and affix its other wards elsewhere.

(2) Wolverhampton NE, Lab majority 8,000; and a few other nearby Labour seats. Abolish South Staffordshire and add rural wards, such as Brewood, Essington, and Codsall to Wolverhampton NE - creating a marginal. Other rural wards can be added to other constituencies.

In both cases, the rural wards are a collection "satellite" or commuter villages or hamlets - whose residents largely work and shop in the nearby town/city (or have moved out into the country). They have an affinity and should be part of that constituency.

Too many gerrymandered Labour rotten boroughs! We need more marginals to restore democracy in the UK!

Is there a disparity in the size of northern seats? Or is it that people in the north are less likely to vote, meaning that the hurdles Labour has to pass in their heartland is less than in ours?

In reply to The Wilted Rose (13:16)
People who live around a large city may have 'an affinity' to said large city, but that doesn't mean that they want to be part of it.
There are a lot of people who live around Plymouth, for instance, and go there to shop, but that doesn't mean that they should be counted as being part of Plymouth for electoral purposes.

Cleethorpes Rock at 12:02 – we live and learn. Wikipedia tells me that yours is “one of the few constituencies which span a ceremonial county boundary” but I have run aground trying to get it to tell me what other examples there are. It also fails to tell me why a sensible convention can be broken in this way !

From the FT: Mr Cameron said “I think the House of Commons could do the job that it does with 10 per cent fewer MPs without any trouble at all”. The obvious question is “are we satisfied that the Commons is actually doing the job that we want it to do ?” To my eye it is entirely at the mercy of the executive government, it is nodding through all the nonsense from Brussels and has signed off huge tracts of primary legislation so that the officials make more and more regulations at will.

There was a time when, newly arrived in opposition, our MPs complained of (and their leaders drove them to) an apparently exhausting burden of responsibilities – each man in principle doing two men’s work. It is not as if there is not still enough to do.

One subtle consideration hinges on the possibility (let us just whisper it) that democracy throws up MPs who are frankly unfit for executive work. A part of the parliamentary party will always be too brash, idle, stupid or old. Another part is made up of various sorts of big beast. Mr Cameron would be reckless to shrink his backbenches unless he is sure that he will fill the offices of government with able men who will toe the line. He would do better to stick with the number of MPs the electorate would now give him and to devise jobs which extend their executive experience – noting for instance how town mayors in Germany are firmly on an equivalent career ladder.

What Mr Cameron is ignoring is the probability that, if he turned from the close world of parliament that he now knows so well to the bureaucracy that dwarfs it, he could find twenty civil servants at the salary level of an MP whose early retirement would worry not one voter in the nation.

"One by-product of Mr Cameron's proposal is that it further undermines the philosophy behind FPTP, that of the MP-constituency link. So, I urge him to be bolder and go for full electoral reform. Proportional representation, fixed-termed Parliaments, and a fully elected second chamber please!"

Hang on.( I realise I'm attacking my own side here, but that is the privelidge of not being a Labour party member.)

You've just said Cameron's proposal undermines the constituency-MP link, then you advocate proprotional representation, which completely undermines it.

One nation Tory said "Is there a disparity in the size of northern seats? Or is it that people in the north are less likely to vote"

There is strong evidence to suggest the latter.

Turnout in the ultra safe Labour seat of Bootle was 48% in 2005

Turnout in the safe Tory seat of Huntingdon was 62%

Incidently turnout in the safe Tory seat of Hexham (in the north-east) was higher still at 69%

Once the pillars that support FPTP are demolished then there is no reason not to scrap it in favour of something more democratic. The MP-constituency link, together with the decisive result argument, are the two main reasons for maintaining the status quo.

There should be fewer Westminster seats for Scotland and Wales, because part of their MPs' workloads got taken over by devolved MEPs and AMs. If, for example those MPs lost 50% of their workload, then their constituency population sizes should be doubled.

Ken, there has already been a drop in westminster seats for Scotland. There may be a case for doing the same for wales.

Instead of playing around with a reduction of 60 seats which will only alleviate the numerous slants in the system but not abolish them, why not go for a completion of the national devolution process for England and have an English parliament. The British parliament could then be reduced in size to say 400. This is likely to be a popular proposal.

You can be sure if the people of England are ever consulted about their representation then they probably will go for something along the lines of

-an English parliament and self government

-a version of PR

-4 yearly parliaments - approx.

All these things can be highly amenable to the Conservative Party which would rapidly adapt and thrive with the new arrangements.

It amazes me that, even now, the party is so ridiculously in awe of the existing warped,rotten system including the Boundary Commissions, particularly as it has been so comprehensively manipulated by a ruthless Labour part to keep themselves in power and the Tories out.

Can we also have a law established which says that if your MP is elected for one party and then joins another there must be a new election.

Too many MPs, sitting for only 126 days this year(2009). Most laws these days coming from the bureau/rats in Brussels. Who needs so many MPs? Would show a great saving on salaries and expenses too. Good house keeping.

I think an English Parliament might be somewhat too large within the context of what would in effect be an de facto federal state. If we were to go down that route, it might be better to have more than one develoved parliament covering England - and London should probably be its own region anyway.

GB£, you're right. I would be a lot more in favour of this plan if it were accompanied by a reduction in power for politicians and greater freedom for the individual.

Coupled with the greater control political parties are exerting over the selection process, the reduction in the number of MPs represents a tightening of the grip of the executive.

Reducing the number of MPs is great, but it can't be used as a fig-leaf for a wider debate about "How much Government should we have?" and how we should give power back to the individual.

Excellent idea ! other reasonable ideas to bring down the cost of politics welcome, firstly I suggest binning the £10k pa 'communications allowance'

The average electorate sizes based on new boundaries (2005 or 2006 figures) are as follows:

England 69,700
Wales 56,300
Scotland 65,300
Northern Ireland 61,700
Total 650 seats.

If all parts of the UK were to use the same electoral quota, this would reduce NI seats from 18 to 16 and Wales from 40 to 32.

A 10% reduction to 585 seats would increase the average electorate to 75,800. Some counties that just missed out on gaining an extra seat at the last review already have more electors than this e.g. Cambridgeshire 77,900, Oxfordshire 77,200 and Somerset 78,600. So can't see why other parts of the country can't manage with seats of this size.

Humm, not a huge fan of this TBH. I can see his point, but I think that the average size of constituencies (about 70,000-80,000) is just about right. There is some argument with lowering the numbers in Wales and Scotland but I'd prefer this too be sorted by their respective boundary commissions (or possibly a new unified UK one). TBH there are far more important issues to address constitutionally than the makeup of the elected chamber; the House of Lords, the Monarchy, and improving local government.

I see many people in the list claiming that boundaries have been "gerrymandered". Have you any evidence that the Boundary Commission set out to deliberately create a Labour bias? (Remember that apart from Scotland the current boundaries were drawn up in the early to mid 1990s, before the huge realignments in voting.) Or are you just assuming that because the current boundaries seemingly favour Labour this is deliberate? (Has the Boundary Commission thus always "gerrymandered" against the Lib Dems?)

I also see the claim that "Scotland" has more MPs than it "should". But it's not really "Scotland" but the "Highlands and Islands" where this applies. Outside of them Scotland should have 54 MPs and it does. In the Highlands and Islands the Boundary Commission have found that geographic considerations mean that five seats, with two based entirely on clusters of islands, and an acceptance of the sparse mainland geography, are more workable than three. Note that the area in question is not a Labour heartland.

These rules apply throughout the UK. I have never seen a ConservativeHome thread where anyone bemoans Northumbria/the North East as a whole getting one more seat than the numbers "entitle" it to in the new boundaries. Is this because hardly anyone's noticed this one? Or is it because the extra seat in question is Hexham, the only Conservative seat in the region? (And no, abolishing it and imposing "equal seats" will not turn one of its neighbours Conservative.)

There is an issue with Wales but it's as much the geography of the north and west that causes extra seats - again not a Labour heartland.

And anyone who wants faster reviews must also be prepared for the political consequences of seats merging, associations & staff arrangements having to be reorganised every few years and numerous cases of two sitting MPs fighting over a single nomination. Two-cycle seat strategies will be harder to pull off. You'll also have to give a lot more money and resources to the Boundary Commission to restructure it to allow fast decisions that are consistent on the local niggles. And the big one - there's no point in the party nationally wanting equal seat sizes if local associations are more concerned about keeping particular villages in existing constituencies.

I think its a bad idea to cut the number of seats. By all means 'balance' out the unfairness in an honest way between the existing seats. But fewer representatives means more power in the hands of fewer people. I like the level of representation we have now.

No reduction of seats in Dave's home country, he still can't get it into his head that the Scots will not vote Tory no matter how many seats he promises them.
The blood flowing through his veins is Scottish so I suggest he runs for a Scottish constituency.
I remain sir,
a sour, uneducated and bigotted, little Englander.

Faced with limited electoral success the Conservatives propose to gerrymander the Elections. What a surprise!!

If they were really serious about Democracy they would support and implement Electortal Reform.

Oh I forgot, that would be REAL democracy and would cripple the Right-Wing in Britain.

This is a good start but I still feel we could reduce the number of MPs by 50% and get by well enough with 325 or so. With modern communications we do not need about 650 as we may have done 50 years ago, to say nothing of the effect of Devolution. Let us have a leaner and meaner Commons.

The party announces that its going to cut spending and what does it come out with as number one for cuts MP`s. Laughable. The amount of money you will save by these cuts is extremely small.
I agree with making seats equal in size. This would not only make the political process more democratic but it would probably I suspect lead to a more balanced Parliament.
I hope the party is not proposing to get these measures through in a way to make a second term victory easier. The electoral system should not be used for party political motives.

If Brown really is as ruthlessly anti-Tory as is often suggested, then here are a couple of things that he might do in the 18 months or so before the next General Election.

One is simply to legislate for each of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the nine English regions to have an equal number of MPs, divisible by three. In Scotland, Wales, the three Northern regions and London, these would continue to be elected by First Past The Post. But in Northern Ireland, the three Southern regions and the two Midland regions, they would "experimentally" be elected by each voter voting for one candidate and top three being declared elected at the end. Once in place, this could never be brought to an end.

The other is slightly subtler. Three hundred constituencies with equally-sized electorates would elect three hundred MPs by means of First Past The Post. Each of the English ceremonial counties, Scottish lieutenancy areas, Welsh preserved counties and Northern Irish counties (99 units in all) would elect a further three MPs by each voter voting for one candidate and top three being declared elected at the end. And each of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the nine English regions would elect a further five MPs by each voter voting for one candidate and top five being declared elected at the end. This gives a grand total of 657 MPs, in perpetuity. In view of the extreme safety of many of the county and regional seats (including all 195 in England) while the use of First Past The Post for the others kept the present party formations in existence, county and regional seats might reasonably be restricted to those who had been registered voters in that county or region throughout the previous five years.

The Lib Dems and others would undoubtedly vote for either of these, in view of the massively increased advantage that either would give them.

Don't put it past him.

You don't support anything the Conservative Party does, ever, Jack. I really do wonder why you waste your time and ours by posting on this site.Nobody agrees with you and most have complete contempt for your views. You really should go elsewhere.

Malcolm Dunn at 17:25 – pointless to get ad hominem excited about Jack Stone. He presumably has a red flag up his jumper, but the remarks he makes about this subject are mild enough. After all, why is this such a good idea ? There must be many more important subjects for the legislative time-table. Tony Blair messed about with the constitution, we thought he was reckless as he did it and the unintended consequences by themselves suggest an age of corrective legislation.

Jack only hints at the possibility of an unworthy motive for this wheeze. Gordon Brown and his chums can easily talk those hints into full blown accusations of a corrupt intention.

We should make sure that the Boundary Commission’s brief is logical and consistent with past intentions, leave it to do its business and forbear from whining when the results do not suit us.

Agree with that Rupert,whilst I don't disagree with the idea it should as I mentioned above only be enacted if it can be seen not to give us an unfair advantage.
Sorry about my attack on Jack. Everyday we have to read his half witted criticisms of everything the party does and it gets wearing particularly as he never ever gets involved in debates.

If it reduces the number of Labour seats it must be a good thing.

I am an instinctive constitional conservative and do not see any pressing need to reduce the number of MPs, any more than we need 'unbritish' things like PR and a supreme court. If it aint broke, don't fix it.

We need good MPs to scrutinize both UK and EU affairs. The European Parliament operated best when it was composed of delegations from the national parliaments. The House of Commons let itself down and the people it represents by going for the diect elections in 1978.

As regards the House of Lords. It needs to be strengthened, including more powerful committees. And why not bring back all the hereditary peers? The system worked and was tampered with more for reasons of dogma, a genuine wish to improve.

Middle-class intelectuals in Islington may have bees in their bonnet about constitional reform, but not the vast majority of good patriotic British working people.

Duncan says the following @11.06 - "Local councils should also be massively reduced in size and independent of national parties. They should raise and spend nearly all their own funding under their own steam. They should consist of, say, 7 full time, paid individuals with no party or national connections, elected town-wide. We'd have far superior local politics if we did this - at the moment we elect (in pathetic numbers) thousands of nonentities with no profile or responsibility and who have virtually no say in policy anyway".

Duncan, have you served or been involved with a council? What you say fits into the category of ideas that sound good if you say it quickly and don't think about it. Firstly having only 7 people would mean there would be little or no scrutiny of what they were doing from day to day (I'm not even going to expand on this point if you don't understand the repercussions of it). Secondly how are you goung to decree that people can't have any party connections? Even if this was actually possible which it plainly wouldn't be, I think it would make for weaker local govt not better but I accept that in some parts its fashionable to think "Independents" are better. The difficulty is that although some are excellent the fact is that the electorate don't know what values they subscribe to and what their real connections are. I might also add that if you added this to the first point ie lack of scrutiny but actually did achieve a genuinely Independent mix you would also have the recipe for muddled and fractional leadership (or in truth lack of leadership). Thirdly when you start with a group of disassociated people in an organisation they naturally form into groups and then naturally link with other groups to share the best ideas. So even if you did start with no parties you would end up with parties.

"'unbritish' things like PR"
I am not so sure I agree with that. I would think the British Principle of people having equal voice is better served by PR than the current system of FPTP.

My reasoning is that, even though a Maggie supporter, the swingeing majorities she had in terms 1 and 2, led to polarised tribalisation which is why even today certain of the Left have the vapours about her, they felt disenfranchised as much as anything. The ridiculous situation whereby more people in England voted for the Tories than Labour, but Labour won the most seats is further evidence. Labour do treat the electorate with contempt because they felt so secure for so long, and they are also not what the people of the nation voted for.

The best way to reduce the number of MPs and other oliticians is to reduce the scope and size of government.

If more power lies in the hands of the people, there will be less need for politicians.

Let's have the debate about what government should and shouldn't do.

Malcolm. I agreed with the proposal to make constiuency`s equal although I suspect politicans of all parties motives when they start to interfere with the electoral process.
Your intolerance of anyone disagreeing with you is a symptom of a disease that is in the party especially with the right.
You must be pure and agree with everything the party says or does it resembles a view of Stalinism.
Blind loyalty is the refuge of the idiot.


Perhaps you would like the number of MPs doubled or trebled?

I can wait for an answer until you have consulted your scriptwriter.

Probably 200 or so would be enough representatives for the First Chamber - maybe 175 for England, 17 for Scotland, 10 for Wales and 4 for Ulster.
Action could be taken to start devolution in England quite quickly - Cornwall could be given similar law making powers to the Scottish Parliament on the current boundaries and with existing representatives, areas such as Wessex, Mercia, Northumberland, Lancashire, Yorkshire etc... could quickly be created and given similar law making powers with powers over the structure of Local Government. English and Welsh Law seperated and Wales getting similar powers to the Scottish Parliament, the GLA similarily upgraded.

Maybe abolish The Northern Ireland Assembly and give the councils devolved parliamentary powers similar to those Scotland has.

Have a Council of England and a Council of Ulster comprising devolved entities within it to decide on things at a national level.

Perhaps have similar representation at Westminster in a Second Chamber along with Statutory Appointees for those in certain positions and have people who are not members of either House, but who have expert knowledge in their field allowed to sit on Select Committees.

Rather than have the PM appointed by the Queen, perhaps have a national list system to choose a one party group of 100 in an Executive who would select the PM from amongst their number. Require a deposit of £100,000 to get entry onto the ballot, allow people to stand multiple times and have an AV system for list entrants - the public could be presented with a number of alternatives then including pre-election coalitions, so with candidates allowed to appear multiple times then Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat etc... could be down as the only option in a list, as well as coalition options with one party having a majority on the executive, the main parties could perhaps share the cost of one listing to present a National Government option.

People would thus know what the result of the option they favoured would be. If no one option got 50%+ of those voting then votes would be redistributed until one did, winner takes all.

The First Chamber of the UK Parliament could then be elected on a Alternative system with Single Member Constituencies.

Either House of the UK Parliament or the National Executive could initiate legislation, however to veto a decision of the National Executive on a majority vote, at least 2/3 of both Houses of Westminster would have to vote the other way, so providing strong government.

Unfortunately I feel that Cameron's foolish pronouncement and Tim's dubious justification for it is fatally flawed.

So let's analyse Tim's justification.

On the matter of fairness. Why does equalising the size of seats have anything to do with the actual number of seats? It would be just as satisfactory to divide the number of eligible voters by 632 (Northern Ireland seats cannot be touched because of the Northern Ireland agreement# as it would by 572. This is no justification for reducing the number of seats.

On the matter of economics. How much will the reduction in MP's save? £30 million a year perhaps? When comparing this to the current government budget of £600 billion#let alone future government budgets)it's peanuts. Nothing more than a token but that will serve to divert people's attention for a short while from the remaining 590 MP's extravagant golden pensions, the offensive John Lewis list and other extravagant expenses and perks that they receive. No doubt at some point MP's will go back to giving themselves even more remuneration for their labours. How many more seats will need to be cut to fund that?

Finally Tim suggests it will resolve part of the imbalance between Labour and Conservatives ability to win seats. However, as I pointed out this is based on the spurious notion that reducing seats in some way is related to making the size of seats more equitable. Clearly it bares no relationship so this third argument is totally spurious as well.

Furthermore, his suggestion reeks of the sort of 'election fixing' (I use the term not because it is wholly accurate but because it has often been used# that Labour has persevered with over the last 10 years. I for one believe such action is wrong and so do many on this site and within the party if Labour do it. So how can it be right if we suggest it? Two wrongs do not make a right and I won't even get into the abhorrent concept of state funding for political parties and its inevitable literal poll tax!

Of course Tim does not talk of any of the potential costs of such action. So I will linger on just one more. I believe although increasingly tentatively that we still have some sort of democracy #if imperfect# in this country. Our democracy is based on representation and this proposal clearly diminishes that democracy. In 2005 the average number of voters per constituency was 68,000. If such a move had been implemented it would have been 75,000. Of course the population is rising and with it the electorate so this average figure will increase election on election unless the number of MPs is increased until the population goes into decline #will it ever?#

In addition given the lack of effort MPs seem to put in in Parliament #Jonathan Isaby's article refers# perhaps they have the capability to take on the additional electorate responsibilities. But aren't we also supposed to be repatriating powers from Europe? How will they find the time to address these extra duties if they have ever increasing constituency duties?

Beyond this of course there is the English Question. Already we trail way behind the other 3 home nations in terms of national democratic representation. Whilst they have their national assembly representation, we only have our MPs. Yet if you consider the proposal you will find that the number of Welsh constituencies that need to be reduced to bring them to the average is 8 seats #40 to 32#, Scotland has already been rationalised and Northern Ireland cannot be touched therefore England will face the brunt of this further diminishing of their democratic representation which is already 3 times less than the other Home Nations.

I find it astounding that firstly the leader of a supposedly democratic party would suggest an action that would diminish the electorates' #much of it the core of his support# democratic representation and totally absurd that so many would so easily and willingly give up their democratic representation as is displayed on this thread. In my view it's not less representation we need but better quality representation and reducing the number of seats provides no guarantee of that.

Of course it may be that Cameron is no better than Brown or Clegg. Neither of whom seem to have any respect for the principles of democracy and that Cameron is just another centralist authoritarian elitist bent on increasingly distancing Government from the people?

Incidentally, based on the average figures calculated above I estimate that such a policy would increase the size of well over 500 seats of which currently well over 100 would be Conservative. Given this can only happen if the Conservatives win the next election #adding at least an extra 115 seats# potentially this could affect close to 200 Conservative MPs prospects at a future election. Do they really want to take that risk?

Equally sized constituencies can hardly be described as fairness when they have a far from equal population.

I think that this proposal will be seen for what it is - an attempt to keep the current electoral system with all its inherent unfairness and disenfranchisement of great swathes of the population but to just nudge it back in favour of the Tories. If Cameron was really concerned about making the electoral system fair and for every vote to count, he would be looking at more wide-ranging reform such as Single Transferable Vote for the House of Commons.

However I do welcome the fact that Cameron has raised the unfairness of the current system as it will help those of us who want proper reform to get our voices heard more clearly.

We desperately need to reduce the number of MPs - I would suggest to 500 with 450 constituencies of roughly equal size and 50 members elected by the D'Hoyt method for say five or six regions, Wales and Scotland being two. Furthermore, abandon first past the post and allow preferential voting to ensure that each member elected secures 50%+ first or second preferential votes. Better still shorten the term from five to four years as in the US.

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