Parliament returned for two weeks in September with important matters to consider including the state of the NHS and the proposed return of grammar schools. Members could be forgiven however if their minds drifted elsewhere with the Boundary Commission publishing initial plans to cut the number of MP’s.
After the 2010 election the Coalition committed to fewer and equal sized constituencies. Equal electoral districts were an objective of the Chartists 150 years ago but they’ve proven more difficult to achieve in practice. The motivation for the Conservatives this time is that Labour stands to lose most seats.
The Conservatives claim that they are making democracy fairer and saving money. But by rushing in the way they are they are excluding more than 2 million new voters who signed up to vote in the EU Referendum, many of them young people. As for cutting costs, the plan aims to save £12 million but ignores the fact that David Cameron created 260 new Lords at a cost of £34 million, on top of spending £45 million on Special Advisers. And with MEP’s going, the workload for MP’s can only increase.
There’s a wider point as well. By cutting the number of MP’s but not the number of Ministers the Executive faces even less scrutiny. There is a case for saving money and for real political reform but this is more about the narrow interest of the Conservatives and deserves to be opposed.