Plans for a Devonwall constituency have been included in the latest, revised edition of the review of parliamentary constituences by the Boundary Commission.
A few weeks ago it was reported that the Conservatives were ready to drop the legislation to give more parliamentary time for Brexit.
All the while the boundary commission has continued it’s work regardless. Today it publishes it’s revised plans since the consultations the third edition- but nothing has changed their mind about Devonwall. They say they note the depth of feeling but no valid alternatives were proposed.
The report says:
“There was support for our proposed constituencies, but also many objections to the creation of a so-called ‘Devonwall’ cross-county constituency, as detailed previously in this report. Many of those who objected to a cross-county constituency did not submit a counter-proposal to create five constituencies wholly within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, each with an electorate within the permitted electorate range. It was argued that Cornwall was a separate entity to the rest of England and should be treated in the same way as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in terms of the review.
Our assistant commissioners were sympathetic to the arguments against a cross-county constituency between Cornwall and Devon, but accepted that the statutory rules left them with no choice but to recommend such a constituency”
Our assistant commissionersconsidered these issues carefully, and decided not to alter our sub-regional grouping. While they acknowledged the depth of feeling in Cornwall against our initial proposals, and were struck in particular by the eloquent and passionate way the views were expressed at the public hearing in Truro, they concluded that there was no valid alternative to a crosscounty boundary constituency that would adhere to the statutory rules. Nor did they consider that the any other sub-regional groups would allow for a better pattern of constituencies across the region”
The legislation is designed to give equal representation across all constituencies.
“We noted that the electorate of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was 393,874 and that if we were to allocate five constituencies, the average electorate of those five constituencies would be 78,775, which is more than 5% above the electoral quota, and therefore outside the permitted electorate range. We were aware that there would be opposition to the creation of a constituency that crossed the Cornwall county boundary, but we considered that the ‘Rules for distribution of seats’ in Schedule 2 of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended) meant that we had no option but to recommend a constituency that crossed the county boundary between Cornwall and Devon. We noted that the county of Devon, together with the unitary authorities of Plymouth, and Torbay, had an electorate of 852,765 and could be allocated 11 whole constituencies on its own, but we also noted that to do so would mean that the region as a whole would have only 52 constituencies, instead of the 53 it was entitled to. We therefore decided to allocate 17 constituencies to Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, and Torbay, and to propose one constituency (named Bideford, Bude and Launceston) that contained parts of Cornwall and Devon.
We decided to recommend a constituency that crossed the county boundary in the north, rather than in the south where the River Tamar is at its widest”
There will be a further and final chance to send in objections from now til December before the final plans are submitted to parliament for approval.
There may not be a desire to push these changes through in the current parliament but the changes will only be put on hold. This ain’t going away!
Full report here
More to follow plus reaction