POLITICS
01/12/2017 16:44 GMT

Plan To Cut Number Of MPs In Parliament Would Create Scottish Constituency The Size Of Cyprus

Bid by Labour MP to keep 650 members won cross-party support.

Plans to cut the number of MPs in Parliament from 650 to 600 would inflate one Scottish constituency to the size of Cyprus.

Were proposals to redraw constituency boundaries to go ahead, the new Highland South constituency would be unmanageably large, the SNP’s David Linden told the Commons.

The Glasgow East MP was taking part in a debate on a private members’ bill tabled by Afzal Khan, who has called for the number of MPs to remain the same, with reviews of Parliamentary boundaries every 10 years.

“I don’t know if Parliamentary allowances would allow the new member to have a helicopter to get around that constituency,” said Linden, who also described the plans as “ludicrous”.

Blogging for HuffPost UK on his proposals - which were backed for a second reading on Friday - Khan said his own Manchester Gorton constituency would be unaffected by the suggested changes, but that he believed keeping the same number of MPs was best for communities.

“The Government has said that reducing the number of MPs will save money,” he said.

“Yet at the same time they have increased the number of unelected Lords and special advisers. Clearly saving money was not the real motivator here.

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Afzal Khan and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner

“Our job as MPs is divided between Parliament and our constituencies. The current boundary proposals would impede our work in both places.

As we navigate Brexit, MPs’ workload will inevitably increase. We are scrutinising the most important constitutional change in decades, meanwhile MEPs’ constituency workloads will pass to MPs in Westminster. This is not the time to reduce democratic representation.”

Conservative MP Mark Harper warned that Khan’s plans opened up the possibility of arguing that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should have fewer MPs, as their workload is supported by devolved governments.

“That is not a position I agree with but it is something to be careful of,” he added.

Several senior Tory MPs, including foreign secretary Boris Johnson and education secretary Justine Greening would be at serious risk of losing their seats to Labour if new borders drawn up as part of the Boundary Review for England were given the green light.

The plan was first devised by David Cameron to “cut the cost of politics” and to create constituencies with more equal numbers of voters and is set to be voted on next year.

PA Wire/PA Images
Boris Johnson's seat could be at risk

But many Tory MPs are sceptical and an overhaul of the system could place undue strain on Theresa May’s fragile grip on power.

Khan added: “Our current situation is a mess. The unpopular attempt to reduce the number of MPs does not have support in Parliament, but the government refuses to ditch their plans.

“My bill has been designed to build a cross party consensus to retain the best of what we have. All the opposition parties are united, and some Tories are on side as well, because ultimately representation and accountability matter, not just to the electorate, but also to the many MPs who value their role and responsibility in assuring both.”

The newly-elected MPs’ bill will be debated again at a later date, but faces a battle to win enough support to clear the Parliamentary procedures required for it to become law.