List of Parliamentary constituencies in Hertfordshire
The county of Hertfordshire in England is divided into eleven Parliamentary constituencies. Each of the eleven elects a Member of Parliament (MP) to represent it at the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament in Westminster. As of the 2017 general election, all of Hertfordshire's eleven MPs are Conservatives. The county currently has two urban borough constituencies (BC) – Broxbourne and Watford – while the other nine are classed as more rural county constituencies (CC).
Hertfordshire has been represented in Parliament since 1290. The number of MPs and the parts represented have changed considerably over time. The number of MPs representing the county increased from four in 1885 to eleven in 1997, being increased by one at each major redistribution which came into effect for the general elections of 1918, 1945, 1950, 1955, February 1974, 1983 and 1997. The penultimate recommendations made by the Boundary Commission for England still stand, effected by the Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007 as used since the 2010 general election. Locally this saw minor alterations.
Limits of the seats were amended by the Fifth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies carried out by the Boundary Commission for England for future elections which have included 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Each constituency is made up of whole or partial local government wards, which elect councillors at English local elections. Nine are designated as county constituencies (in which candidates can spend more per head than their borough counterparts). Two are borough constituencies.
|Name[nb 1]||Electorate||Majority[nb 2]||Member of Parliament||Nearest opposition||Map|
|Broxbourne BC||73,182||19,807||Charles Walker †||Sean Waters ‡|
|Hemel Hempstead CC||74,035||14,563||Michael Penning †||Nabila Ahmed ‡|
|Hertford and Stortford CC||81,765||19,620||Julie Marson †||Chris Vince ‡|
|Hertsmere CC||73,971||21,313||Oliver Dowden †||Holly Kal-Weiss ‡|
|Hitchin and Harpenden CC||76,323||6,895||Bim Afolami †||Sam Collins ¤|
|North East Hertfordshire CC||76,123||18,189||Oliver Heald †||Kelley Green ‡|
|South West Hertfordshire CC||80,499||14,408||Gagan Mohindra †||David Gauke|
|St Albans CC||73,727||6,293||Daisy Cooper ¤||Anne Main †|
|Stevenage CC||71,562||8,562||Stephen McPartland †||Jill Borcherds ‡|
|Watford BC||83,359||4,433||Dean Russell †||Chris Ostrowski ‡|
|Welwyn Hatfield CC||74,892||10,955||Grant Shapps †||Rosie Newbigging ‡|
History of constituencies and boundaries
- Former constituency
- 2017 United Kingdom general election * Constituency for the
|St Albans[nb 3]||1307–1852||1885–*|
|Barnet||1945–1974||Part of Greater London from 1965|
|South West Hertfordshire||1950–*|
|Hertford and Stevenage||1974–1983|
|Hertford and Stortford||1983–*|
|Hitchin and Harpenden||1997–*|
|North East Hertfordshire||1997–*|
Prior to 1885
Hertfordshire was first represented in the English parliament in the thirteenth century, during the reign of King Edward I. Edward held a meeting of Parliament in the county in 1295. By 1307, the county's representation in parliament consisted of two representatives, known as Knights of the Shire, who represented the county as a whole. In addition, the city of St Albans and borough of Hertford elected two representatives of their own. Parliament's role evolved over the next five centuries, from a body existing primarily to advise the monarch on taxation, into a legislative body in its own right following the English Civil War. However, Hertfordshire's constituency makeup within it remained unchanged until 1832, when the County's representation was increased to 3 MPs by the Great Reform Act. In 1852, the constituency of St Albans was disenfranchised and under the Reform Act of 1867, the representation of the Boroughs of Hertford was reduced to 1 MP.
Constituencies formerly sending two or three MPs
Under the Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884–85, it became more common for constituencies to be represented by a single MP. This became universal on the abolition of the last few few two-member Boroughs and last university constituencies under the Representation of the People Act 1948. Before these reforms, the House of Commons had far fewer constituencies – the majority of which were represented by two and, in a few cases, more than two MPs and such instances locally are listed below, with the increase or reduction in representation being implemented at general elections held in those years.
|Name||From||To||Number of MPs|
|St Albans[nb 5]||1307[nb 6]||1852||2|
Under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 the County was divided into four single-member constituencies, namely the Eastern of Hertford Division (which absorbed the abolished Parliamentary Borough of Hertford), the Northern or Hitchin Division, the Mid or St Albans Division and the Western or Watford Division.
The table shows an approximate representation of the development of constituencies in Hertfordshire since 1885. The text below gives a more detailed description.
|Watford CC||Hemel Hempstead CC1||Hemel Hempstead CC1||Hemel Hempstead CC1||Hemel Hempstead CC1||Hemel Hempstead CC||West Hertfordshire CC||Hemel Hempstead CC|
|Watford CC||Watford CC||South West Hertfordshire CC||South West Hertfordshire CC||South West Hertfordshire CC||South West Hertfordshire CC||South West Hertfordshire CC|
|Watford BC||Watford BC||Watford BC||Watford BC||Watford BC|
|St Albans CC1||St Albans CC||Barnet CC||Barnet CC||Barnet CC||Transferred to Greater London (Chipping Barnet BC)|
|St Albans CC||St Albans CC||St Albans CC||St Albans CC1||St Albans CC1||St Albans CC|
|South Hertfordshire CC||Hertsmere CC||Hertsmere CC|
|Hertford CC||Welwyn and
|Welwyn Hatfield CC||Welwyn Hatfield CC|
|Hitchin CC||Hitchin CC||Hitchin CC||Hitchin CC||Hitchin CC||Hitchin CC||North Hertfordshire CC||Hitchin and
|North East Hertfordshire CC|
|Hertford and Stevenage CC||Stevenage CC||Stevenage CC|
|Hertford CC||Hertford CC||Hertford CC||Hertford CC||East Hertfordshire CC||East Hertfordshire CC||Hertford and
|Broxbourne BC||Broxbourne BC|
|BC = Borough Constituency (prior to 1950 – Parliamentary Borough or Division thereof)
CC = County Constituency (prior to 1950 – Parliamentary County of Division thereof)
1Constituency containing the town of Harpenden
Under the Representation of the People Act 1918, the additional County Division of Hemel Hempstead was created. This was largely formed from the northern half of the Watford Division, including Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring and also included north-western part of the St Albans Division, including Harpenden.
During this period, the demographics of voters in the county changed significantly, with four new towns being designated in the county in the three years from 1946–48. Meanwhile the eligibility to vote was extended from men who held property of a high enough value, to universal suffrage for all adults over the age of 21, as a result of the Representation of the People Acts in 1918 and 1928.
The House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1944 set up Boundaries Commissions to carry out periodic reviews of the distribution of parliamentary constituencies. It also authorised an initial review to subdivide abnormally large constituencies (those exceeding an electorate of 100,000) in time for the 1945 election. This was implemented by the Redistribution of Seats Order 1945 under which Hertfordshire was allocated an additional seat. As a consequence, the new County Constituency of Barnet was formed from the St Albans constituency, comprising the Urban Districts of Barnet and East Barnet, and the Rural District of Elstree.
The Representation of the People Act 1948 increased the county's representation once again, from 6 to 7 MPs, with the creation of the County Constituency of South West Hertfordshire, which was formed from the old Watford constituency, excluding the part comprising the Municipal Borough of Watford (which comprised the redesignated Borough Constituency of Watford). The new seat also included the parish of Abbots Langley, transferred from Hemel Hempstead. Elsewhere, the Rural District of Welwyn was transferred from Hitchin to St Albans, the Rural District of Hatfield from St Albans to Barnet and the parish of Wheathampstead from St Albans to Hemel Hempstead.
The First Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies resulted in the creation of the County Constituency of East Hertfordshire from the bulk of the Hertford constituency, with a small rural area transferred from Hitchin. Hertford saw significant changes with only the Municipal Borough and the part of the Rural District of Hertford retained. The Urban District of Welwyn Garden City and the Rural District of Welwyn were transferred from St Albans; the Rural District of Hatfield was transferred from Barnet; and the remainder of the Rural District of Hertford was transferred from Hitchin.
The next national boundary change came into effect for the February 1974 election following the recommendations of the Second Periodic Review and saw significant changes affecting Hertfordshire. Three new constituencies were introduced, offset by the abolition of two. Only Watford remained unchanged.
Barnet was abolished following the creation of the county of Greater London nine years earlier in 1965. The Urban Districts of Barnet and East Barnet had been incorporated into the London Borough of Barnet in Greater London and now formed the basis for the new Borough Constituency of Chipping Barnet. The Rural District of Elstree was retained in Hertfordshire and was included in the new County Constituency of South Hertfordshire which also comprised the Urban District of Potters Bar which had been transferred from Middlesex to Hertfordshire following the creation of Greater London and was now transferred from the abolished Borough Constituency of Enfield West. The parish of Aldenham in the Rural District of Watford was transferred from South West Hertfordshire and the parishes of Colney Heath, London Colney and St Stephen in the Rural District of St Albans were transferred from St Albans. In turn, Harpenden and Redbourn were transferred from Hemel Hempstead to St Albans.
Hertford was also abolished, with the Municipal Borough and Rural District of Hertford being included in the new County Constituency of Hertford and Stevenage. The Urban District of Stevenage, which formed the greater part of the new constituency, was transferred from Hitchin and the Urban District of Ware was transferred from East Hertfordshire. The remaining parts of the Hertford constituency formed the new County Constituency of Welwyn and Hatfield.
The Third Review reflected the 1974 local government reorganisation arising from the Local Government Act 1972 and resulted in another significant redistribution. It saw the formation of Broxbourne, Hertford and Stortford, Hertsmere, North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and West Hertfordshire, replacing the abolished constituencies of East Hertfordshire, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford and Stevenage, Hitchin and South Hertfordshire – a net increase of one seat.
Broxbourne was formed as a Borough Constituency, primarily from southern parts of the abolished constituency of East Hertfordshire, mainly consisting of the former Urban Districts of Cheshunt and Hoddesdon which had been combined to form the District of Broxbourne under the local government reorganisation. The rest of East Hertfordshire, including Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth, together with Hertford and Ware from the abolished constituency of Hertford and Stevenage, formed the new County Constituency of Hertford and Stortford, with Stevenage being created as a separate County Constituency.
Hitchin was replaced by North Hertfordshire, with a small part in the south-east being included in Stevenage (Codicote and Knebworth); Hemel Hempstead was largely replaced by West Hertfordshire, with Berkhamsted being transferred to South West Hertfordshire; and South Hertfordshire was largely replaced by Hertsmere, with Colney Heath being transferred back to St Albans and St Stephens transferred to Watford. In order to balance the electorates, South West Hertfordshire transferred Bushey and Abbots Langley to Hertsmere and Watford respectively and Wheathampstead was transferred from St Albans to Welwyn and Hatfield (renamed Welwyn Hatfield), which in turn transferred Northaw to Broxbourne.
The Fourth Review saw another increase in the number of constituencies, with the creation of Hitchin and Harpenden and North East Hertfordshire and the re-establishment of Hemel Hempstead, replacing the abolished constituencies North Hertfordshire and West Hertfordshire.
Hitchin and Harpenden combined the two towns of Hitchin, previously part of North Hertfordshire, and Harpenden, transferred from St Albans. The remainder of North Hertfordshire (including Letchworth, Baldock and Royston), together with some rural areas of Hertford and Stortford and Stevenage, formed the new constituency of North East Hertfordshire. Hemel Hempstead was reformed from West Hertfordshire, with Tring being transferred to South West Hertfordshire.
To compensate for the loss of Harpenden, St Albans gained St Stephens and Park Street, Bedmond, and London Colney from Watford, South West Hertfordshire and Hertsmere respectively. Other movements included the transfer of Stanstead Abbotts and Amwell from Broxbourne to Hertford and Stortford; Kings Langley from South West Hertfordshire to Hemel Hempstead; Wheathampstead from Welwyn Hatfield to Hitchin and Harpenden; and three District of Three Rivers wards from South West Hertfordshire to Watford.
The Boundary Commission for England decided not to change Hertfordshire's representation in Parliament for the 2010 election. It did however suggest slight boundary changes to reduce electoral disparity. The recommendations, which became law with the Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007, also ensured that local government wards in Hertfordshire would no longer be split between two Parliamentary constituencies.
|No. on map||Constituency||Pre-2010 Boundaries||Post-2010 Boundaries|
|3||Hertford and Stortford|
|5||Hitchin and Harpenden|
|6||North East Hertfordshire|
|7||South West Hertfordshire|
Proposed boundary changes
The Boundary Commission for England submitted their final proposals in respect of the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster Constituencies (the 2018 review) in September 2018. Although the proposals were immediately laid before Parliament they were not brought forward by the Government for approval. Accordingly, they did not come into effect for the 2019 election which took place on 12 December 2019, and which was contested using the constituency boundaries in place since 2010.
Under the terms of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the Sixth Review was based on reducing the total number of MPs from 650 to 600 and a strict electoral parity requirement that the electorate of all constituencies should be within a range of 5% either side of the electoral quota.
On 24 March 2020, the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Chloe Smith, issued a written statement to Parliament setting out the Government's thinking with regard to parliamentary boundaries. They propose to bring forward primary legislation to remove the statutory obligation to implement the 2018 Boundary Review recommendations, as well as set the framework for future boundary reviews in time for the next review which is due to begin in early 2021 and report no later than October 2023. It is proposed that the number of constituencies now remains at the current level of 650, rather than being reduced to 600, while retaining the requirement that the electorate should be no more than +/- 5% from the electoral quota.
Primary data source: House of Commons research briefing - General election results from 1918 to 2019
The number of votes cast for each political party who fielded candidates in constituencies comprising Hertfordshire in the 2019 general election were as follows:
|Party||Votes||%||Change from 2017||Seats||Change from 2017|
* Included in Other
Historical representation by party
A cell marked → (with a different colour background to the preceding cell) indicates that the previous MP continued to sit under a new party name.
1885 to 1945
|Constituency||1885||1886||1892||1895||98||1900||04||1906||Jan 10||Dec 10||11||16||1918||19||20||21||1922||1923||1924||1929||1931||33||1935||37||41||43|
|Hertford||A. Smith||E. Cecil||A. H. Smith||Rolleston||Billing||→||Sueter||→|
|St Albans||J. W. Grimston||Gibbs||Slack||Carlile||Fremantle||J. Grimston|
|Hemel Hempstead||Talbot||J. Davidson||Dunn||J. Davidson||F. Davidson|
1945 to present
|Constituency||1945||1950||1951||1955||1959||1964||1966||1970||Feb 1974||Oct 1974||1979||79||1983||1987||1992||1997||2001||2005||2010||2015||2017||19||2019|
|Barnet||Taylor||Maudling||Transferred to Greater London|
|Hemel Hempstead (1945–83, 97-) / West Hertfordshire (1983)||Davidson||Allason||Corbett||Lyell||Jones||McWalter||Penning|
|Hertford / & Stevenage (1974) / H & Stortford (1983)||Walker-Smith||Lindsay||Williams||Wells||Prisk||Marson|
|Hitchin / North Hertfordshire (1983) / NE Hertfordshire (1997)||Jones||Fisher||Maddan||Williams||Stewart||Heald|
|Hertfordshire E / Broxbourne (1983)||Walker-Smith||Roe||Walker|
|Hertfordshire South / Hertsmere (1983)||Parkinson||Clappison||Dowden|
|Welwyn and Hatfield||Lindsay||Hayman||Murphy||Evans||Johnson||Shapps|
|Hitchin and Harpenden||Lilley||Afolami|
- List of Parliamentary constituencies in the East of England (region)
- East of England (European Parliament constituency)
- Hertfordshire County Council
- Hertfordshire local elections
- BC denotes borough constituency, CC denotes county constituency.
- The majority is the number of votes the winning candidate receives more than their nearest rival.
- St Albans was abolished in 1852, but re-established in 1885.
- Hertford began to send representatives to parliament in 1298, and became a permanent constituency in 1624.
- St Albans was abolished in 1852, but re-established in 1885.
- St Albans started sending members of parliament in 1307, and became a permanent constituency in 1554.
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