Monday, 27 July 2020


My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian looks at the threat of a ”Devonwall” parliamentary seat. It will be as follows:

On Sunday 30th October 2016, campaigners congregated at Polson Bridge on the Tamar to protest against the proposal for a “Devonwall” parliamentary seat.

The “Boundary Commission for England” (BCE) had recommended a Bideford, Bude and Launceston seat, but this had not come about by accident. It happened because of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act (2011), which sought to reduce the number of MPs to 600 and ensure that electorates for individual seats were within 5% of the average seat size. Because the legislation did not protect Cornwall as an electoral area, it was a statistical impossibility for the BCE to propose a whole number of seats for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Westminster did not listen to the protesters, though the proposals of the BCE failed to go ahead because of unrelated political disagreements in London.

The UK Government has now put forward another Parliamentary Constituencies Bill, which will lead to a new review of parliamentary boundaries though, this time, the number of MPs will be kept at 650.

I would acknowledge that it is unlikely that this next review will lead to a cross-Tamar constituency. But the legislation, as presently drafted, states that a fresh boundary review should be carried out every eight years. Given projected population changes, it seems to me that it would only be a matter of time before the likelihood of a “Devonwall” constituency arises once again. 

Cornwall is a historic nation, with its own culture, traditions and language, while the Cornish are recognised as a national minority. This places many obligations on the UK Government. With this in mind, I submitted evidence to the Public Bills Committee and formally requested that MPs ensure the Cornish border, which has been in existence for more than one thousand years, is respected in all future boundary reviews and Cornwall’s territoriality is not breached.

The Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 14th July. One Cornish MP, Cherilyn Mackrory, spoke in the debate (see above) and did make a number of good points. But because Cornwall’s MPs had chosen not to move the necessary amendment, the Bill went through unaltered.

I was anticipating that Cornwall’s MPs would take the opportunity to table an amendment and I am simply dumbfounded that they did not.

This week, the Bill moves to the House of Lords and peers will consider it further in the Autumn. I sincerely hope that they will come together to amend the Bill to Keep Cornwall Whole.

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