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David Cameron plans to cut the size of the House of Commons by more than 60 MPs, under a plan radically to redraw Britain’s parliamentary map that could make it easier for the Conservatives to win elections.
Mr Cameron said an incoming Tory government would aim to cut the size of the Commons – with 650 seats at the next election – by at least 10 per cent. Safe Labour seats in Wales and the inner cities could be axed.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Cameron said his efforts to cut public spending would extend to Westminster: “I think the House of Commons could do the job that it does with 10 per cent fewer MPs without any trouble at all.”
He said the Tories could legislate in their first term for an urgent boundary review – cutting across traditional county boundaries – so that all seats had roughly the same number of electors in time for the general election that followed.
That could see the number of seats in Wales, traditionally over-represented at Westminster, cut from 40 to nearer 30. Small inner city constituencies in places such as Liverpool could be scrapped to reflect the shift in population to the Tory suburbs.
“We can legislate for that, yes, and we should,” Mr Cameron said. “I believe in having seats that are the same size all across the country.” Aides said it would be a first-term priority.
Scotland, which used to be over-represented at Westminster, has had its seats cut to 59, following devolution to Holyrood.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said a smaller Commons would tend to exaggerate swings, but in the short term the move “would improve the Tory chances of winning”.
Rob Hayward, an elections analyst and former Tory MP, said speedier boundary reviews would favour the Tories as they would reflect Britain’s shift from urban to rural areas.