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Boundary Review in England

Volume 676: debated on Tuesday 19 May 2020

To ask the hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, what recent progress has been made on the boundary review in England. (902810)

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England continues to recommend fair electoral and boundary arrangements for local authorities in England. Last week, it published final recommendations for Westminster and Richmond upon Thames. These local government boundaries generally become the building blocks for parliamentary boundaries, which are, of course, a matter for the four Boundary Commissions, reporting through the Cabinet Office.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. The covid-19 virus has, of course, had an impact on every facet of our lives at the moment. Will he tell us more about its impact on the commission’s boundary work and whether it has been able to co-ordinate its work with other Boundary Commissions, such as those working on the parliamentary boundaries?

When coronavirus-related restrictions were introduced, the commission shifted entirely to home working. It took forward work on reviews where further external information or input was not required, such as those for Westminster and Richmond. The commission aims to deliver external reviews informed by local needs, views and circumstances. It therefore paused some reviews that were part way through the review process while it considered how to proceed. It has now developed new ways of working, and commissioners are meeting today to agree how and when to restart paused reviews and begin others. On the wider issue of parliamentary boundaries using these building blocks, because that is a rolling programme, many of those building blocks will already be in place and other reviews perhaps would never have been ready in time for the particular parliamentary reviews.