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Government ditches plan to cut number of MPs from 650 to 600 because 'Brexit will increase their workload'

MPs had voted to reduce their number from 650 to 600.

2 min read

Plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 have been abandoned by the Government.

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said the move was necessary because Brexit will lead to Parliament having a "greater workload" in the future.

The plans to cut the number of MPs were a key part of David Cameron's election manifesto in 2010, and were also included in the Tory-Lib Dem coailtion's programme for government.

Mr Cameron said it would slash the cost of Parliament and equalise the size of constituencies.

Parliament approved the plan in 2011, but the move has been repeatedly delayed due to wrangling over which seats would be axed.

In a written statement to Parliament on Tuesday, Ms Smith said: "Legislation currently provides that, on implementation of the 2018 Boundary Review recommendations, the number of constituencies in the UK shall be 600.

"The Government is minded to instead make provision for the number of parliamentary constituencies to remain at 650.

"In doing so, we would also remove the statutory obligation to implement the 2018 Boundary Review recommendations and the statutory obligation on the Government to make arrangements to review the reduction in constituencies to 600 by 30 November 2020."

The minister added: "The UK Parliament will have a greater workload now we are taking back control and regaining our political and economic independence.

"It is therefore sensible for the number of parliamentary constituencies to remain at 650."

The move was welcomed by campaigners. 

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: "Plans to cut voters’ representation in the Commons would have undermined the voices of ordinary people in Parliament and hurt democratic scrutiny.

"The proposals always seemed more like an executive power grab than a genuine move to improve the function of the Commons. So this is a small but welcome victory for backbenchers and voters.
"Once the pandemic is over, we need a root and branch reform of how our democracy works in the UK.

"We need proper principles to underpin how many MPs we have, how boundaries are drawn and how the franchise works. Time to move away from ad hoc partisanship to real democracy.
“Without shrinking the size of the Government, cutting MPs would have done little more than enhance the already disproportionate power of ministers."

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