Labour demands boundary review pause

A REVIEW to slash the number of MPs in Britain should be pushed back to take account of two million people who signed up to vote in the EU referendum, according to Labour.

Dame Rosie Winterton

The Conservatives want to reduce MPs from 650 to 600 and work will start in Yorkshire and the Humber next month when electoral commissioners arrive in the region to host a series of public meetings on the plans.

Yorkshire and the Humber is set to lose four MPs with seats in East Yorkshire held by Tories under threat while Labour could see seats scrapped in Leeds, Bradford and Hull as all three places have a number of constituencies with very low populations.

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Calculations for the 2018 Parliamentary Boundary Review is based on the number of electors in each constituency collected in December 2015 but Labour say the figures are now considerably out of date as two million new people registered to vote in the European referendum.

A spokesperson for Chief Whip Dame Rosie Winterton said the process has been flawed for a number of months and would like to see the entire proposal pushed back to a later date.

He said: “We are arguing that they should look at this again but the fact of the matter is the Boundary Commission’s hands are tied and they can only work from the legislative framework they have got unless the Government directs them to make a change.

“The 2m people who entered the electoral register at the EU referendum should be included.”

He said everything about the boundary review so far had been partisan. While the Conservatives have often cited the £12m savings fewer MPs in Westminster would make, Labour contrast this with the 260 unelected peers created by the Tories since six years which has cost the public purse £260m.

He added: “We are not against equal sized constituencies but the Government have chosen an abstract number of 600 and it benefits the Tories.”

New rules for the 2018 boundary change stipulate that there should be no fewer than 71,031 electors per constituency and no more than 78,507.

Currently the constituencies with too few electors - according to December 2015 figures - include Bradford South, East and West, Halifax, Haltemprice and Howden, Huddersfield, Keighly, Leeds East, North and West, Pudsey, Shipley, Barnsley Central, Barnsley East, Rotherham, Sheffield Healey, Brigg and Goole, Hull East, West and North.

It is understood that both Secretary of State for Brexit David Davis and Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy’s seats were both under threat when the review was first signed off by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

However following the notoriously independent minded politicians being brought into the heart of Government, some are speculating their seats may be saved.

Assistant commissioners start work in Yorkshire and the Humber today and will hold up to five public meetings throughout October and November, as well as assess letters and emails from people who want to take part in the consultation.

Labour also say the imminent loss of 73 MEPs as a result of Brexit would heap extra work on MPs.