by Gary J
Sat Mar 5th, 2011 at 05:59:51 AM EST
Since my diary Electoral Reform - The UK Way, the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act 2011 has emerged from Parliament. Royal assent was granted on 16 February 2011.
For the first time in British history we now have something resembling a fair system for apportioning Parliamentary seats.
The number of House of Common single member constituencies is to be reduced from 650, at the 2010 general election, to 600. Apart from a small number of special cases, seats are to be allocated to the four parts of the United Kingdom using the Saint-Lague method (using successive divisors of 1, 3, 5 etc). This is an innovation for the UK as allocating list seats proportionately, as in British European elections, has used the D'Hondt method (successive divisors of 1, 2, 3 etc).
The Boundary Commissions (one for each nation in the UK) have agreed the apportionment. This is based on the number of registered electors.
The special cases include the two groups of Scottish Islands, with preserved constituencies, the Western Isles (held by the Scottish National Party) and Orkney & Shetland (a Liberal/Liberal Democrat seat since 1950). During the course of Parliamentary passage the Isle of Wight (off the coast of southern England) was allowed two seats within its boundaries, to avoid having to attach part of the island to the mainland for Parliamentary purposes. The current single member for the Isle of Wight is a Conservative. The four seats will have smaller electorates than standard.
The apportionment for the seats is England 500 (plus the two for the Isle of Wight, total 502 (minus 31 from 2010); Northern Ireland 16 (a drop of two); Scotland 50 (plus the two island seats), total 52 (minus seven from the current total); and Wales 30 (a reduction of ten).
The 596 standard new constituencies are to have an average electorate (the UK quota) of 76,641. A 5 per cent plus or minus variation is permitted, so each seat must have between 72,816 and 80,473 voters.
The English Boundary Commission is suggesting producing an apportionment based on the nine European Parliament electoral regions rather than, as has been the case since the thirteenth century, on counties and boroughs.
The suggested regional apportionment, using the same method as for the division between the four parts of the UK; is Eastern 56, East Midlands 44, London 68, North East 26, North West 68, South East 81 (plus 2 for the Isle of Wight), South West 53, West Midlands 54 and Yorkshire & the Humber 50.
What rules do other countries use to apportion legislative seats to different geographical areas?