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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to common questions asked regarding the 2013 review.

How did the average constituency figure arise? What criteria did you use?

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 201 (External link) sets out new rules for the Commission to follow in conducting a review of Parliamentary constituency boundaries, the Commission did not make these decisions themselves. The figure for the number of constituencies in Wales was arrived at by the application of a formula prescribed in the legislation. See our information booklet for more detail. 

Why a 25% cut in Wales?

The degree of change has been significant in Wales. This is because 39 of the 40 MPs representing Wales in the House of Commons at the moment have constituencies with fewer registered electors than the new Act requires, and in many cases significantly fewer. The Act's numerical parameters will result in every constituency in the UK containing between 72,810 and 80,473 electors (apart from four named exceptions, two of which will apply to England and two to Scotland) and in Wales having 30 MPs.

Why is Ynys Môn not an exception to the electoral quota?

There are four exemptions from 'Rule 2' of the The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, which sets the parameters for constituency sizes across the UK. These are two constituencies on the Isle of Wight in England, and Orkney and Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar in Scotland. Parliament did not include an exemption for Ynys Môn in the legislation. 

Why have you used electoral register data and not population data? Is the number of registered electors reliable?

The Commission is required, by the Act, to work on the basis of the number of the electors on the electoral registers at the 'review date'.

The Commission does not own or collate electoral registers - they are the responsibility of local authorities. The Act requires the Commission to use the published figures and, therefore, the Commission is unable to take account of any alleged under-registration or over-registration of electors that may be claimed in some areas.

How will Parliamentary constituencies be updated to reflect changing numbers of electors in different areas?

For its 2013 review the Commission was required to consider the number of registered electors on the 'review date'. The Act specifies that from now on there must be a review of Parliamentary constituencies every five years.

To what degree has the Commission taken local government boundaries into account?

The Commission have taken into account local government boundaries where possible. They include both the external boundaries of unitary authorities and their internal electoral division, community or community ward boundaries as they were in force on the most recent ordinary day of election of councillors before the review date (the Act defines such boundaries in Wales as the boundaries of counties and county boroughs and those of the electoral divisions, communities and community wards within them). For this review, the review date is 1 December 2010 therefore the local government boundaries used were those in force on 6 May 2010. Electoral divisions (wards) are well-defined and well-understood units, which are generally indicative of areas which have a broad community of interest. However, in some cases the Commission has considered it appropriate to split electoral divisions in order to create constituencies which meet the legislative requirements. In these cases the Commission has looked at community level boundaries to develop proposals which it believes best support local ties within the legal parameters.

Has the Commission taken the views of politicians into account in developing these proposals?

The Commission is an independent and impartial body, so existing voting patterns and the prospective fortunes of the political parties do not enter its considerations during a review. It has regard only to those factors that the Act states it may (or must) take into account.

What other criteria have been applied?

(As per the Act) a Commission may take into account:

  • special geographical considerations, including the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency;
  • local government boundaries as they exist on the most recent ordinary council-election day before the review date;
  • boundaries of existing constituencies;
  • any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies

As far as possible, the Commission seeks to create constituencies in Wales:

  • From electoral divisions that are adjacent to each other; and
  • That do not contain 'detached parts', i.e. where the only physical connection between one part of the constituency and the remainder would require passage through a different constituency.

Why have you changed some constituency names?

The Commission's policy on the naming of constituencies is that, if constituencies remain largely unchanged, the existing constituency name should usually be retained. Constituency names are changed only when it is necessary to do so. The Commission welcomes comments on the naming of constituencies as part of its public consultation.

How have you determined constituency designations? And what is the consequence?

The term designation refers to the classification of a constituency into either a 'borough constituency' or a 'county constituency'; the Act requires that each constituency is designated one or the other.

The Commission considers that, as a general principle, where constituencies contain more than a small rural element they should normally be designated as county constituencies. In other cases they should be designated as borough constituencies. The designation is suffixed to the constituency name and is usually abbreviated: BC or CC.

The designation generally determines who shall act as Returning Officer for Parliamentary elections. The designation also determines the limit on the amount that a candidate is allowed to spend during a Parliamentary election in the constituency. The limit is slightly lower in borough constituencies, to reflect the lower costs of running a campaign in an urban, usually compact area.

How do these Initial Proposals relate to the National Assembly for Wales (NAfW) constituencies?

The Proposals are only applicable to the Westminster Parliamentary constituencies. Under the PVSC Act the link between the two sets of constituencies was dissolved. Any proposal to create a mechanism to review NAfW constituencies would be the responsibility of the Wales Office/Government. On 21 May 2012 the Wales Office published a Green Paper ‘Future Electoral Arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales’. 

How do these Initial Proposals relate to the Local Government activity underway?

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales (LGBCW) is a separate entity to the Commission. There is no correlation between the 2013 Review and the work programme of the LGBCW.

The Boundary Commission for Wales

What is the Commission / what is the Commission's function?

The Boundary Commission for Wales is an independent and impartial non-departmental public body which is responsible for conducting periodic reviews of Parliamentary constituency boundaries in Wales and making recommendations to Parliament for changes.

Who are the Commissioners?

The Commissioners were selected through open public competition.

  • Deputy Chairman: The Honorable Mr Justice Wyn Williams (replaced The Honourable Mr Justice Lloyd Jones on 1 October 2012)
  • Commission Members: Mr Paul Loveluck CBE, Professor Robert McNabb

The deputy chairman, who presides over the Commission's meetings, is a judge of the High court appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The two other members are appointed jointly by the Lord President of the Council and the Secretary of State for Wales.