MPs object to constituency boundary change plans

THE Government’s proposed boundary changes to Parliamentary constituencies have been dealt a setback.

Debbie Abrahams MP

The plans, revealed by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) in October for public consultation, aim to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK from 650 to 600.

Some MPs face losing their seats as some constituencies could merge into one another, while in other places brand new constituencies could be formed.

However, the plans have been met with objections from numerous MPs, including Debbie Abrahams, who is MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

In a private members’ bill brought forward by Manchester MP Afzal Khan, MPs voted 229 to 44 in favour of quashing the boundary change proposals.

Mrs Abrahams said: “I agree with Afzal Khan MPs’ private members bill, which argues we should retain the current number of parliamentary seats at 650.

“He’s right to say that a proposed reduction in the number of MPs would inevitably make constituencies bigger, making MPs stretched even thinner and more remote from voters.

“A better way to reduce the cost of politics would be to stop increasing the size of the House of Lords.

“The Tories justify their proposals to ‘reduce the cost of politics’. The reality is any money saved is offset by appointing over 260 new peers in the last seven years.”

The Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill 2017-19 has now been sent to Public Bill Committee, with the first sitting to be announced.

The proposals would see Shaw and Crompton become part of a ‘Saddleworth and Littleborough’ constituency along with Saddleworth North, Saddleworth South, Saddleworth West and Lees, Balderstone and Kirkholt, Littleborough Lakeside, Milnrow and Newhey, Smallbridge and Firgrove and Wardle and West Littleborough

An ‘Oldham Borough’ constituency would cover Chadderton North, Chadderton Central and Chadderton South, Coldhurst, Royton North and Royton South, St James, Waterhead and Moston.

Alexandra, Hollinwood, Medlock Vale, St Mary’s, Werneth and Failsworth East and West would join with Audenshaw and Droylsden East and West from Tameside to form the ‘Failsworth and Droylsden’ constituency.

The proposed boundary changes

Mrs Abrahams added: “The recommendations in 2011 left the borough with the ‘left overs’ splitting historic towns and communities, and the recent revised proposals are only a little better.

“The current number of registered voters easily allows for two whole constituencies within the borough which respect historic towns and community ties.

“Much of the work we have done locally, from the Oldham Fairness Commission to the Oldham Education and Skills Commission, and developing a Dementia Friendly Oldham, is about building strong integrated communities.

“But these proposals are, once again, an insult to the people of Oldham and could have a divisive effect on our community’s representation in Parliament.

“I will continue to work constructively to ensure the final outcome reflects the identity of communities in Oldham.”

The public consultation ended on December 11, 2017 and responses will be considered by the BCE before they submit their final recommendations in September 2018.

Find out more about the plans at: www.bce2018.org.uk