In my article in today’s Cornish Guardian, I have decided to update people with what is happening with the parliamentary Boundary Review.
It is as follows:
The Boundary Committee has commenced its review of parliamentary constituencies in advance of the 2020 General Election and, as things stand, this would inevitably lead to the creation of an unpopular cross-Tamar Devonwall constituency.
The situation is that the previous (Coalition) Government passed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which stated that the number of seats in the UK parliament should be reduced to 600 and – unless specified in the legislation – the electorates for seats should be within 5% of the various averages for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
It is true that the recommendations of a Boundary Review undertaken during the last Parliament were not agreed – because of Coalition infighting – but the Act is still on the statute book and the Conservatives have started the process once again.
Sadly, the Act does not recognise the territorial integrity of Cornwall and our historic border would be breached in the future provision of parliamentary seats. But since the Act was agreed, the UK Government has decided that the Cornish are covered by the auspices of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
The Boundary Review is therefore against the spirit and intent of the Framework Convention, which also seeks to protect the political integrity of territories associated with national minorities. The fact that the Boundary Review would go against the UK Government’s own commitments to Cornwall (via the Convention) has yet to be acknowledged by the leaders of the Conservative Party or addressed by local MPs.
I presented a motion on this topic to Cornwall Council in April, which was worked up in more detail in partnership with council officers and the Constitution and Governance Committee.
I was pleased that councillors voted overwhelmingly, at May’s Full Council meeting, to lobby both central government and local MPs to “amend the Act prior to completion of the parliamentary constituency review” in order ensure that Cornwall’s parliamentary constituencies are entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall.
And it would be relatively simple for central government to do this.
Just look at how it dealt with last week’s “emergency” legislation to extend the deadline for people seeking to register to vote in the upcoming referendum on the EU following the failure of the Government’s registration website. This was drafted, tabled and agreed within a single 48 hour period.
MPs could likewise deliver a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act. All that is needed is the political will to Keep Cornwall Whole.