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12 News THE BOUNDARY


COMMISSION has published its proposals for a massive reorganisation of Wales’ representation in Westminster, including a cut in the number of Welsh MPs sitting in the House of Commons. The Parliamentary Boundary


Commission for Wales is an advisory Non-Departmental Public Body funded by the Cabinet Office and it has conducted a review of all Welsh constituencies for the Westminster Parliament, as part of a commitment by the Conservative government to reduce the number of MPs and ensure constituencies are of equal size. The number of MPs in Wales


is proposed to be cut from 40 to 29. The figure was not arrived at by the Commission itself, but through the application of the formula set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. What this means for West Wales


is the loss of one parliamentary constituency and the reorganisation of the boundaries of others. The Herald asked West Wales’ MPs for their views on the proposals.


PEMBROKESHIRE Simon Hart and former Secretary


of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, face the prospect of one of them losing their seat when the boundaries are redrawn. Part of Mr Crabb’s Preseli


Pembrokeshire seat will be absorbed into a new constituency, which will include the whole of the current Ceredigion constituency, while the Carmarthen element of Mr Hart’s seat will disappear. Simon Hart told The Herald: “It’s


very early days yet and there is no guarantee that the proposals will go through when they are voted on later in 2018. “From my perspective, it is very


much business as usual and I have every intention of carrying on as the local MP for as long as I can.” Stephen Crabb said: “The revised


Boundary Commission proposals for Pembrokeshire are as we expected. It was always very likely that the most northern wards would be included with Ceredigion as they used to be under the old boundaries back in the 1980s. “I am pleased that the Commission accepted m y


Jon Coles Deputy Editor


jon.coles@herald.email


proposal for the Maenclochog ward to be included with the main Pembrokeshire seat. “The proposed name of the new


constituency, however, is misleading. I think people living in Croesgoch, Mynachglogddu or St Davids would be very surprised that they are part of a constituency called South Pembrokeshire. This is something we can discuss further with the Boundary Commission. “Whilst I strongly support the


principle of equal sized constituencies, I quite like my current constituency as it is. In the coming weeks I will be discussing the proposals in detail with local party members and the wider community.”


CEREDIGION Mark Williams, Liberal


Democrat leader in Wales and MP for Ceredigion, told us: “While these boundary proposals are part of a long process, and I expect them to change substantially between now and 2018, there are serious concerns about the way in which this process has taken place. “These proposals have been


drawn up on a flawed basis, based on out of date information. There were real problems with the introduction of individual voter registration which saw huge numbers of people, especially younger people and students, falling off the electoral register. This means certain areas, such as my constituency of Ceredigion, and urban areas such as Cardiff and Swansea, with large student numbers, have been significantly disadvantaged.” Reflecting on the basis upon which


his former parliamentary colleagues in the coalition government supported the changes, Mr Williams said: “The Liberal Democrats supported boundary changes during the Coalition as part of a


Axe falls on Welsh MPs: 11 constituencies go


package which included reform and reduction in the membership of the House of Lords and substantive devolution to Wales. House of Lords reform was blocked by the Conservatives, and I am not convinced that the current Wales Bill represents significant devolution to Wales.” Expressing his reservations on


the current proposals and how they matched assurances given previously when the Bill was passed, he added: “It is important that if boundary changes take place, they are done using accurate population figures and with proper democratic and constitutional reforms to ensure that these changes do not leave Wales with a weakened voice. Currently, I fear they do not meet that criteria.”


CARMARTHENSHIRE Responding to the publication of


proposed parliamentary constituency changes by the Boundary Commission, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards, said: “It is somewhat ironic that these proposed boundary changes, supposedly being done to reduce the cost of politics, is underway the same time as more than 200 people take up


a


place as unelected and unaccountable members of the House of Lords.” Speaking of his f e a r s


(Left) Simon Hart: ‘Business as usual’ (Right) Stephen Crabb: ‘I quite like my constituency as it is’


that Wales will be left without a strong voice either in Parliament or as part of a settlement for enhanced powers for the Assembly, Mr Edwards said: “As it stands, Wales has a profoundly weaker devolution settlement compared to Scotland and Northern Ireland; yet, on these proposals, we will still lose 27% of our MPs – the largest proportional cut in representation of any nation. “If the boundary changes


go through without significantly equalising the Welsh settlement with that of Scotland and Northern Ireland, there will be a further democratic deficit.” Mr Edwards spelled out that there


would need to be further work on the proposals tied into further changes to the powers given to the Assembly: “A cut in representation must be balanced by meaningful empowerment of our National Assembly. If not, I will be opposing these proposed boundary changes.”


LLANELLI Nia Griffith, Labour MP for


Llanelli, was sceptical about the motives behind the proposed changes. “I am very concerned that these


proposals would severely reduce Wales’ voice in Westminster, with only 29 MPs instead of the current 40. It is


MarkWilliams: ‘Proposals drawn up on a flawed basis’


(Left) Jonathan Edwards: ‘A democratic deficit’ (Right) Nia Griffth: ‘Tories being hypocritical’


hypocritical of the Tories to p r e t e n d t h a t


reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is anything to do with reducing the cost of politics when during his term of office, the former Prime Minister David Cameron MP created 260 new unelected members of the House of Lords!” Nia Griffith told us. She continued by pointing out that


circumstances in Wales were different from those in England and elsewhere within the UK: “There is a genuine case for trying to achieve greater parity between the number of voters per constituency but you also have to think about the difficulties of getting around areas of rural Wales. “Also by insisting on using


last year’s electoral registers, the government is also ignoring the two million voters who have signed up since then, and selling them short of the representation they deserve.” Nia Griffith concluded: the Boundary


“Nevertheless,


Commission have done a commendable job within the stringent criteria they were set. On a personal note, it has been an honour to represent Llanelli since 2005 and I am very pleased that under these draft proposals the whole of the Llanelli constituency will be kept together, rather than being split up as has happened to other seats. The Boundary Commission’s proposals create the new constituency of Llanelli and Lliw which includes the Llanelli seat together with some areas that are currently part of the Gower and Swansea constituencies, and these plans will now be subject to consultation. Whatever the final makeup of the seat, I look forward to continuing to represent every one of our local communities in Llanelli and the surrounding areas.”


THE HERALD FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16 2016


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Boundary Commission proposes major changes


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