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The 2023 Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies is the current cycle of the process to redraw the constituency map for the House of Commons. The process for periodic reviews of parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom is governed by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, as amended by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 and subsequently by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020. This review is the successor to the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies, which was ultimately abandoned after two successive proposals by the Commissions failed to pass into law.
Under current legislation, the four Boundary Commissions of the United Kingdom are required to report on their next review of the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies before 1 July 2023. In order to meet this deadline, the Commissions began their work on 5 January 2021.
The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies was launched by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. The process began in 2011 and was intended to be completed by 2013, but a January 2013 vote in the House of Commons temporarily stopped the process. The process was recommenced following the 2015 general election and the four Boundary Commissions submitted their final recommendations to the Secretary of State on 5 September 2018 and made their reports public a week later. Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom told the House on 13 September 2018 that "it will be some time" before the necessary statutory instruments would be put forward for approval by both the Commons and the Lords. The proposals were never put forward for approval before the calling of the general election held on 12 December 2019, and in December 2020 the reviews were formally abandoned under the Schedule to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020.
The Government's policy position regarding the process for the 2023 review was confirmed in a written statement, entitled Strengthening Democracy, by Minister of State for the Cabinet Office Chloe Smith on 24 March 2020. Smith confirmed in her written statement that primary legislation would be brought forward to remove the legal requirement to give effect to the recommendations of the Sixth Review and set the framework for future boundary reviews.
The main proposals in the statement were as follows:
Maintaining 650 seats
Under the legislation which governed the unimplemented 2018 Boundary Review recommendations, the number of constituencies was to be reduced from 650 to 600. It was proposed that this be retained at 650, on the grounds that Parliament will have a greater workload following the UK's departure from the European Union.
Electoral quota tolerance
It was proposed to maintain the current tolerance of ±5% from the average size of constituencies (the "electoral quota").
It was initially proposed that there would be no change to the four protected constituencies of Isle of Wight (divided into two seats), Na h-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles of Scotland) and Orkney and Shetland (the Northern Isles of Scotland), which are protected from the electoral quota due to their unique geography. However, during the passage of the legislation, an amendment was introduced to add Ynys Môn (the Isle of Anglesey in Wales), increasing the number of protected constituencies to five.
Boundary review cycle
It was proposed that reviews be carried out every eight years, rather than the current requirement of five years.
Implementation of recommendations
Currently, the final proposals of the Boundary Commissions are brought into effect through an Order in Council that must be approved by Parliament. It was proposed that the Order in Council be automatically passed in future.
|Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020|
|Act of Parliament|
|Long title||An Act to make provision about reports of the Boundary Commissions under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986; to make provision about the number of parliamentary constituencies and other rules for the distribution of seats; and for connected purposes|
|Citation||2020 c. 25|
|Introduced by||Chloe Smith, Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution ( )|
Lord True, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office ( )
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
|Royal assent||14 December 2020|
|Amends||Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, Boundary Commissions Act 1992, Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013|
Status: Current legislation
|History of passage through Parliament|
|Text of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
A Bill of Parliament was introduced on 19 May 2020 to reflect the written statement and it received its Second Reading on 2 June 2020. The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 received royal assent on 14 December 2020. The act amends the regulations underpinning the upcoming boundary review process, including the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, Northern Ireland Act 1998, Boundary Commissions Act 1992, and Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011.
A summary of the main provisions of the Act are as follows:
Clause 1 - Reports of the Boundary Commissions
Each Boundary Commission must submit a report:
(a) before 1 July 2023,
(b) before 1 October 2031, and
(c) before 1 October of every eighth year after that.
Clause 2 - Orders in Council giving effect to reports
This gives effect to the proposal that the Orders in Council be automatically passed. The Orders must be made within four months of the reports being laid before Parliament, "unless there are exceptional circumstances".
Clause 3 - Modifications of recommendations in reports
A Boundary Commission may submit modifications to its report after it has been submitted but before an Order in Council has been drafted.
Clause 4 - Publicity and consultation
This clause changes the timings in respect of various stages in the publicity and consultation procedures.
Clause 5 - Number of parliamentary constituencies
The number of constituencies will remain at 650.
Clause 6 - Taking account of local government boundaries
This amends the rules regarding the factors a Commission may take into account to include local government boundaries which are prospective on the "review date", as opposed to just being effective. Prospective local government boundaries are those which have been specified by legislation, but have not yet become effective.
Clause 7 - Protected constituencies
Clause 8 - Registers used to determine the "electorate" in relation to the 2023 reports
For the 2023 reports, the date for determining the "electorate" to be used in the reviews is 2 March 2020 (rather than 1 December 2020). This amendment was specifically inserted partly because of the shorter time-frame for submitting the reports, but primarily because of concerns over collecting the data during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clause 9 - Alteration of the "review date" in relation to the 2023 reports
For the 2023 reports, the "review date" is specified as 1 December 2020, rather than 2 years and 10 months before the report date.
Clause 10 - Removal of duty to implement etc. in relation to current reports
This clause formally removes the duty to implement the previous reviews which were submitted in September 2018.
The four Boundary commissions formally launched their 2023 reviews on 5 January 2021 to coincide with the release by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) of electorate data as published on 2 March 2020. The commissions jointly calculated the relevant electoral quota/range to be used for the 2023 review and the allocation of parliamentary constituencies between the four nations. The English commission further divided its allocation between the nine regions of England.
The electorate of the United Kingdom, comprising 650 constituencies, as determined by the ONS, was 47,558,398 on 2 March 2020. The electorate of the five protected constituencies - Isle of Wight (two seats), Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Orkney and Shetland and Ynys Môn - amounted to 220,132, leaving 47,338,266 to be distributed between the remaining 645 constituencies, which gives an electoral quota of 73,393. Each non-protected constituency must have an electorate which is within 5% of this quota which gives a permitted electoral range of 69,724 to 77,062. In Northern Ireland the legislation allows for a wider range, in certain prescribed circumstances, from 68,313 to 77,062.
Of the 646 unprotected constituencies (Isle of Wight currently has only one seat), 236 have electorates within the permitted range, while 203 are below and 207 are above.
The regional distribution of these seats is shown in the following table.
|Region/Nation||Below range||Within range||Above range||Total seats|
|South East *||2||37||44||83|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||16||22||16||54|
The 650 constituencies were allocated between the four nations of the UK in accordance with the method of allocation specified by the legislation as shown in the table below.
|Unprotected seats||Protected seats||Total|
The Commission for England has applied the same distribution formula to the English allocation, which results in the following redistribution of constituencies among the English regions:
|South East *||83||6,522,802||89||+6||73,290|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||54||3,966,500||54||-||73,454|
|Isle of Wight||1||111,716||2||+1||55,858|
* Excluding Isle of Wight
The detailed constituency and ward electorates issued by the ONS are based on the local authority boundaries which are currently effective and do not take account of prospective changes which have been enacted on 1 December 2020. There are 31 such local authorities in England, of which 16 are London Boroughs. The Commission for England subsequently worked with local authorities to produce updated data which includes these 'prospective' wards. A comprehensive list of ward electorates was published on 24 March 2021.
The initial outline timetable published by the Commission for England is as follows:
The current constituency boundaries are largely based on the Fifth Periodic Review of Westminster Constituencies which was carried out by the Boundary Commissions between 2000 and 2007. The Scottish review was completed in time for the 2005 general election, with the other 3 reviews coming into effect at the 2010 general election. In England, the fifth review was based on the number of electors on the electoral register published in February 2000. The electorates were therefore already 10 years out-of-date by the time it came into effect and over 20 years have now passed.
The table below shows the movements in the national/regional electorates since those used for the fifth review.
|Region/Nation||Electorate in 2000||Electorate in 2020||Absolute
|Yorkshire and the Humber||3,786,501||3,966,500||4.8%||-2.4%|