Published: 22/10/2017 13:00 - Updated: 19/10/2017 13:32

Parliamentary boundaries are 'at odds with reality'

Written byEmma Crichton

 

Drew Hendry
MP Drew Hendry.

BOUNDARY changes that could leave the Highland Council area with just two MPs have been branded completely out of touch by politicians.

If approved the proposals would see the existing three north constituencies swallowed into the new Highland South and Highland North.

It is part of UK-wide plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600, including reducing Scotland’s constituencies from 59 to 53.

The new boundaries are set to follow rules saying the minimum electorate in each constituency must be 71,031, with the exception of island constituencies, but local MPs have called for a special case to be made to account for the sparse population and huge geographical size of the Highlands.

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry said: “Proposals that reduce representation in the Highlands through the creation of these enormous constituencies shows just how out of touch Westminster is with our region.

“They take no account of our diversity or the geographical challenges these proposals present.

“Our Highland constituency offices are already working at out dealing with the help people need on universal credit, amongst many other issues reserved to Westminster.

"These proposals will only serve to disadvantage constituents even further.”

Fellow SNP MP Ian Blackford, whose Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency takes in the Black Isle, said cuts should be made from the House of Lords, not MPs.

“These proposals make no account of the already large size of the Highland constituencies,” he said.

“If these proposals go ahead 40 per cent of the land mass of Scotland would be represented by three MPs. These proposals will make it more challenging for constituents to have a connection with their local MP.

“It is not Highland MPs that should be cut, it should be the over-representation at the unelected House of Lords.”

There are questions hanging over whether the changes will see the light of day.

It is thought the Conservative minority government may struggle to find the votes needed to pass the new boundaries.

Opposition parties have been vocal in their criticism, and a number of Conservative backbench MPs have also voiced concerns over changes that would impact on their constituencies.

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