Paddington (UK Parliament constituency)

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Paddington
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
February 1974–1983
Number of members one
Replaced by Westminster North
Created from Paddington North and Paddington South

Paddington was a parliamentary constituency centred on the Paddington district of London. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The constituency was created for the February 1974 general election, partially replacing the previous Paddington North and Paddington South constituencies, and abolished for the 1983 general election. A Paddington borough constituency has three times been recommended during early stages of Boundary Commission inquiries, only to be altered before the final report was issued.

History and boundaries[edit]

In the Initial Report of the Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England published in October 1947, the Commission recommended that the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington should form an undivided Parliamentary Borough returning one member, with an electorate on 15 October 1946 of 87,032.[1] The Government brought in a Representation of the People Bill based on the recommendations, but after pressure from some affected local authorities, decided give extra seats to some towns and cities where the electorate had resulted in the area narrowly missing out on an additional Member. Paddington was one of three Metropolitan Boroughs with very large electorates, and its total was higher than any other. On 18 March 1948 the Government put down amendments to the Bill which included awarding two seats to Paddington.[2] A division into redrawn Paddington North and Paddington South borough constituencies followed.

In their 1967 Christmas message to their fans, Christmastime Is Here Again!, the Beatles included a skit where a game-show winner is "elected as an independent candidate for Paddington! Look after yourself!" Paddington was still a divided borough at this point, but had lost electorate. The Metropolitan Borough of Paddington had been absorbed into the City of Westminster in local government changes in April 1965. The Second Periodical Review of constituency boundaries commenced in 1965, and the City of Westminster was allocated three seats, a reduction of one. Initially the Commission proposed to transfer the Maida Vale ward from Paddington North to St Marylebone constituency, and merge the remainder of Paddington North with the whole of Paddington South in a Paddington borough constituency. Objections led to a local inquiry, which caused the Commission to revise their recommendation to include Maida Vale ward in Paddington constituency while removing Hyde Park ward (previously in Paddington South) to St Marylebone. Further representations led the Commission to revise their recommendations again, and to include Hyde Park ward in the Paddington constituency.[3] The constituency was defined as the following wards of the City of Westminster: Harrow Road, Hyde Park, Lancaster Gate, Maida Vale, Queen's Park and Westbourne.[4] The new constituency was a precise merger of the two previous Paddington divisions.

At the time, Paddington North was safe Labour, while Paddington South was safe Conservative, and the new constituency had some sharp social contrasts. A merger of the two was expected to be marginal, although in the 1970 election the Labour Party was ahead by 442 votes. When the first general election was called on the new boundaries, both sitting MPs, Arthur Latham (North) and Nicholas Scott (South), stood in the new constituency.[5] Latham won the seat by 872 votes. The Conservatives again listed it as a 'critical seat' when the October 1974 general election was called, and selected Mark Wolfson as candidate (Nicholas Scott having been selected in Chelsea). There was a candidate from the Irish Civil Rights Association, who had resigned from the Labour Party because he opposed Government policy on internment in Northern Ireland, who hoped to win the votes of Irish voters.[6] Arthur Latham increased his majority to 2,311.

In the 1979 general election Paddington was again a key marginal which the Conservatives hoped to gain. John Wheeler had been selected as Conservative Party prospective candidate by the summer of 1976.[7] Labour recognised that the seat was vulnerable but hoped that Latham's good constituency reputation would give him a personal vote.[8] John Wheeler, who needed a 3.3% swing to win, campaigned on giving the many council tenants in the constituency the ability to manage their own flats[9] The result turned out to be so close that it went to four recounts, and the overnight count had to be postponed until the morning;[10] during the count the Returning Officer at one point thought he had 1,500 more ballot papers than were issued, although it turned out to be caused by a polling station erroneously reporting the number of papers issued.[11] Wheeler was finally declared the winner by 106 votes.

By the time the Boundary Commission began to look again at constituency boundaries in London, ward boundaries in Westminster had changed and the constituency consisted of eight electoral wards of the City of Westminster: Bayswater, Harrow Road, Hyde Park, Lancaster Gate, Little Venice, Maida Vale, Queen’s Park, and Westbourne. Westminster was allocated only two constituencies in place of three, and the Boundary Commission proposed that three wards from the northern part of the abolished St Marylebone constituency, Church Street, Hamilton Terrace and Lords form part of a larger Paddington constituency. A local inquiry found that the St John's Wood area should not be divided and therefore included Regents Park ward with the other three; to equalise the electorates, it then removed Hyde Park ward from the proposed constituency into City of London and Westminster South. The local inquiry also found that including areas which were not part of Paddington led local opinion unanimously to favour naming the new constituency Westminster North.[12]

The initial proposals by the Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England in the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies published in October 2011 proposed a Paddington borough constituency consisting of the City of Westminster wards of Bayswater, Lancaster Gate, Harrow Road, Hyde Park, Little Venice, Maida Vale, Queen's Park and Westbourne (which were in the previous Paddington constituency), and Abbey Road ward. It also included four wards of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea: Colville, Golborne, Notting Barns and St Charles.[13] Revised proposals published in October 2012 did not retain the Paddington constituency.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member Party
Feb 1974 Arthur Latham Labour
1979 John Wheeler Conservative
1983 constituency abolished

Elections[edit]

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
February 1974 General Election
Electorate: 58,265
Turnout: 68.9%
Labour hold
Majority: 872 (2.2%)
Arthur Charles Latham Labour 17,293 43.1 -4.5
Nicholas Paul Scott Conservative 16,421 40.9 -5.7
Neville Julian Spencer Lewis Liberal 6,441 16.0 +10.2
October 1974 General Election
Electorate: 58,492
Turnout: 61.7%
Labour hold
Majority: 2,311 (6.5%)
Arthur Charles Latham Labour 17,155 47.6 +4.5
Geoffrey Mark Wolfson Conservative 14,844 41.1 +0.2
Neville Julian Spencer Lewis Liberal 3,742 10.4 –5.6
Christopher David Wertheim Labour Conservative Coalition 192 0.5
James Stephen Allman Irish Civil Rights 135 0.4
1979 General Election
Electorate: 56,234
Turnout: 63.3%
Conservative gain from Labour
Majority: 106 (0.3%)
John Daniel Wheeler Conservative 16,189 45.5 +4.4
Arthur Charles Latham Labour 16,083 45.2 –2.4
Alastair John Brett Liberal 2,815 7.9 –2.5
Ian Alistair Cameron National Front 402 1.1
Olatunji Banjo Workers Revolutionary 117 0.3

Sources[edit]

  • "British Parliamentary Election Results 1974-1983" ed. by F.W.S. Craig, Parliamentary Research Services, Chichester, 1984, p. 36.
  • Return of the Expenses of each Candidate at the General Election of February 1974, House of Commons Paper 69 of session 1974/75.
  • Return of the Expenses of each Candidate at the General Election of October 1974, House of Commons Paper 478 of session 1974/75.
  • Return of the Expenses of each Candidate at the General Election of May 1979, House of Commons Paper 374 of session 1979/80.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Initial Report of the Boundary Commission for England", Cmd. 7260, p. 33.
  2. ^ "Constituency Changes", The Times, 19 March 1948, p. 4.
  3. ^ "Boundary Commission for England", Second Periodical Report, Cmnd. 4084, p. 26-27.
  4. ^ "Boundary Commission for England", Second Periodical Report, Cmnd. 4084, p. 96.
  5. ^ Michael Horsnell, "Two sitting members woo millionaires and council tenants", The Times, 12 February 1974, p. 5.
  6. ^ "Fight for the 39 vital marginals: Part 1 Paddington", The Times, 23 September 1974, p. 4.
  7. ^ "The Political Companion" No. 24 (Summer/Autumn 1976) edited by F.W.S. Craig and E.P. Craig, Parliamentary Research Services, Chichester, 1976, p. 95.
  8. ^ "Capital movements could make a little swing a big dipper", The Guardian, 10 April 1979, p. 4.
  9. ^ "Where hunt the voter is the name of the game", The Guardian, 19 April 1979, p. 6.
  10. ^ Richard Norton-Taylor, "London goes Tory on 8 per cent swing", The Guardian, 4 May 1979, p. 32.
  11. ^ "Ballot forgery scare", The Guardian, 5 May 1979, p. 3.
  12. ^ "Boundary Commission for England", Third Periodical Report, Cmnd. 8797-I, p. 37-8.
  13. ^ "Boundary Commission for England Initial Proposals Paddington BC" (PDF). Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 20 October 2012.