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Ward Boundaries

Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

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When the Electoral Commission last met the Boundary Commission to discuss the review of ward boundaries in metropolitan authorities; and if he will make a statement. [107084]

Mr. Peter Viggers
(representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Responsibility for reviews of ward boundaries in metropolitan authorities falls to the boundary committee for England. The Electoral Commission has not met the committee to discuss this matter.

May I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the guidance issued in the periodic electoral review, which states that the Electoral Commission and the boundary committee for England

"must have regard to the desirability of fixing identifiable electoral area boundaries"
and ensure that community interests are safeguarded? It is, therefore, apparent from the directive that both organisations have responsibility for this issue. I would like to draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to problems that are developing in some of the metropolitan areas in which boundary reviews are taking place. In Wakefield, for example, there are two communities with a vast distance between them. The M62 passes through the area, which also has a railway container depot and a vast industrial area, and a railway going along the division between the two communities. There is also no natural identifiable boundary. There has been a tremendous increase in community interest in this issue. Will the hon. Gentleman take this matter on board and ensure that such proposals will be examined in detail, and that the community interest is given priority when it comes to identifying ward boundaries?

Yes. Electoral equality is the starting point for the boundary committee's review, but of course it also takes account of other items, including community identity. As to the consultation on the boundary committee's draft recommendations in relation to Wakefield city council, the public consultation period ends today, and I understand that the hon. Gentleman is making representations in that regard.