Alteration of the “review date” in relation to the 2023 reports

Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 30th June 2020.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Hon. Members will remember that clause 1 made certain changes to the timing of boundary reviews; it did that by establishing the end dates of boundary reviews—namely, the dates by which the boundary commissions must submit their reports to the Speaker. We discussed then how the next boundary review, starting in 2021, would have an end date of July 2023, to allow a slightly compressed timetable of two years and seven months for that review only. The intention there was to provide the best possible chance of the new boundaries being in place ahead of the next general election.

Clause 7 is the other side of the same coin. It sets the start date for the next review. The formal start date of a boundary review is known as the review date, and the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 defines it as being two years and 10 months before reports are due to be submitted. Clause 7 amends the 1986 Act—I am talking now about rule 9(5) in schedule 2—making a change for the next review only, by maintaining the review date of 1 December 2020. For all subsequent boundary reviews, the review date will continue to be two years and 10 months before reports are due to be submitted.

As we have already discussed, bringing this back up to the general level of the arguments on this Bill, it has been well over a decade since the results of a boundary review have been implemented. Our constituencies are therefore based on electoral data that is up to 20 years old. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that the next boundary review, starting in 2021, finishes as promptly as possible, but without compromising the processes of the boundary commissions. The timetable of two years and seven months has been discussed with the boundary commissions and with parliamentary party stakeholders who, as I outlined in an earlier session, all support the move. I therefore hope that it will also have the support of this Committee as well.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.