Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Lib Dems sharpen their axe for MPs

If you've ever wondered where the axe would fall under Lib Dem plans to slash the number of MPs - and which of us has not lost sleep over it? - then help is at hand.

The party has published details of its plans to cut the House of Commons by 133 or 21 per cent (slightly fewer than their policy of a cut of 150). The cuts are rather more severe in Wales, where the number of MPs would be cut by 30 per cent, from 40 to 28.

These 28 would sit for eight multi-member constituencies and be elected under the single transferable vote system.
The new constiuencies are named after the old (1974) county council boundaries. Gwynedd (to include Anglesey) would have two seats, Clwyd would have four, Powys would keep its existing two seats (can't think why the Lib Dems thought of that).

Dyfed would have four seats, West Glamorgan three, Mid Glamorgan four, and South Glamorgan four. Gwent would have five MPs.
The details are found in amendments to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill - amendments tabled by three English Lib Dem MPs. No news yet on what their Welsh colleagues think of them - or whether they were consulted.

The Bill is being debated by MPs today, so would pre-date any Lib Dem plans to give the Welsh Assembly more powers and link a cut in MPs to that.

Plaid Cymru, who highlighted the amendments at a Westminster news conference this morning, say they would only sign up to cuts in the number of Welsh MPs if they are accompanied by a transfer of powers to Cardiff Bay.

UPDATE 1624: Roger Williams MP, "Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Wales":

“The Liberal Democrats believe that there should be fewer MPs across the UK, and some of the numbers cut will obviously have to come from Wales.
“The amendment would explicitly allow the Boundary Commission to increase the number of seats allotted to Wales if this was appropriate, and the amendment is intended to set out our initial plans on where to distribute seats across the UK.

"The Bill is at an early stage, and we will clearly be looking to achieve a settlement that gives Wales the best possible voice in Westminster. We have sat down as a party and worked out what we think is a fair distribution of seats across the UK, but if anyone disagrees then they should take part in the Parliamentary debate on this matter.

“If the number of seats in Wales was cut in line with seats across the UK we would introduce a consequential amendment to remove the link between Parliamentary and Assembly seats in the Government of Wales Act.

“The Liberal Democrats want to see a Welsh Assembly with full legislative powers, and these proposals should be viewed as a step closer to a Wales that doesn’t have to go cap in hand to Westminster. A Liberal Democrat Government would seek to transfer powers to the Welsh Assembly as soon as possible while ensuring that the overall number of MPs is cut.”


Peter Black said...

If we had a multi member constituency in Powys with two MPs elected on STV then one is likely to be a Tory!

Wil_cc said...

Would there actually be two seats in Powys under this system? Neither Powys seat is particularly large (population not geographic) therefore if there was a 30% cut in seats it's fair to assume you would only have one member from Powys. Alternatively you could just pick more sensible seats of roughly the same population instead of going back to the old counties.

James D said...

The Northern Ireland proposals look suicidal. Didn't the Salads look at the demography of those districts first?

Peter Black said...

I would take the allocation of seats with a pinch of salt to be honest. You cannot run an effective STV system with two member constituencies.