Monday, 25 January 2010

Cuts, cuts, cuts - in MPs that is

Posted on This is My Truth on 25 January

There are likely to be few dissenters when David Cameron gets round to cutting the number of MPs if he becomes PM.

The Conservative Leader has pledged to cut the size of the House of Commons by 10% as part of his initiative to reduce the cost of Government. It is of course completely unrelated to the desire to recalibrate the Parliamentary boundaries that currently disadvantage the Tories.

It is assumed that a 10% cut would reduce the size of the Welsh Parliamentary Party from 40 to 36. But as Richard Wyn Jones from Cardiff University's Welsh Governance Centre has pointed out, this may be an incorrect assumption.

The only clear statement setting out how the change would be implemented comes from Lord Kenneth Baker. The Tory grandee introduced a Bill into the Lords in 2006 proposing that every constituency should be equalised at 76,000 electors - up from around 56,000 in Wales at present. This is said to be the working model by experts in the field.

That would mean just 29 Welsh MPs. And given that the number of Assembly seats is related to the number of MPs it would cut the number of AMs from 60 to 49, throwing the Assembly into chaos. And causing profound tensions within the main parties as politicians scrabble for seats.

Little detail has been given by the Conservatives in public about exactly how they will determine the cuts - or indeed how much money it will really save, or the exact implications for devolution.

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