House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1944

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The House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1944 (7 & 8 Geo.6. c.41) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that established permanent boundary commissions for each of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, and provided for the periodic review of the number and boundaries of parliamentary constituencies.

The Act established the membership of each commission, the procedures to be followed by the commissions, and the rules for the redistribution of seats for the commissions to observe. The commissions' initial reviews of constituencies under the Act were implemented by the Representation of the People Act 1948.[1]

The boundary commissions[edit]

The Speaker of the House of Commons was to be the chairman of each of the four commissions. The remaining members were as follows:

Boundary Commission for England[edit]

Boundary Commission for Scotland[edit]

Boundary Commission for Wales[edit]

  • The Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England
  • The Director General of the Ordnance Survey
  • One member appointed by the Home Secretary
  • One member appointed by the Minister of Health

(For the purposes ot the Act Wales included Monmouthshire)

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland[edit]

  • The Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Northern Ireland
  • The Commissioner of Valuation for Northern Ireland
  • Two other members appointed by the Home Secretary

No member of the Commons, or of either house of the Parliament of Northern Ireland was qualified to be a commissioner, and any serving commissioner would be disqualified on becoming a member of any of these bodies.

Rules for redistribution of seats[edit]

The Act contained a number of rules to guide the work of the commissions.

Number of constituencies[edit]

  • Great Britain was to have "not substantially greater or less than" 591 constituencies.
  • Scotland was to have not less than 71 constituencies.
  • Wales was to have not less than 35 constituencies.
  • Northern Ireland was to have 12 constituencies.

Rules on dividing and combining counties and districts[edit]

"As far as practicable" in England and Wales:

  • No county (or any part thereof) was to be included in a constituency with the whole or part of any other county, or part of a county borough or a metropolitan borough.
  • No county borough (or any part thereof) was to be included in a constituency with any other county borough or part of a metropolitan borough.
  • No metropolitan borough was to be included in a constituency which included the whole or part of any other metropolitan borough.
  • No county district (municipal borough, urban district or rural district) was to be included partly in one constituency and partly in another.

In Scotland:

  • No county or burgh could be partly in one parliamentary county and partly in another, or be divided between a parliamentary county and a parliamentary burgh.
  • No burgh other than a county of a city was to be divided between constituencies.

In Northern Ireland:

  • No county district was to be included partly in one constituency and partly in another.

Electorate[edit]

The electorate of any constituency should not differ from the "electoral quota" by more than 25%.

The electoral quota was obtained by dividing the total electorate for either Great Britain or Northern Ireland by the number of allocated seats.

Special geographical considerations[edit]

Each commission were allowed to depart from the rules on areas or electorate in special cases "including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency" in order to form constituencies.

Amendment and repeal[edit]

The 1944 Act was amended by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1947, and succeeded by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 which amended the rules for the redistribution of seats, but did not change the membership or procedures of the commissions.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Boundary Commissions: redrawing the UK's map of Parliamentary constituencies; D J Rossiter, R J Johnston, C J Pattie; Manchester University Press, 1999.