Elec­tion re­view comes out against split­ting two towns

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang will not be split at West­min­ster elec­tions.

Bound­ary Com­mis­sion Scot­land pub­lished their find­ings af­ter a re­view of Scot­tish con­stituen­cies last week.

The pro­pos­als, which in­clude the re­ten­tion of the Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West con­stituency, could see the num­ber of Scot­tish MPs cut from 59 to 53 and the num­ber of MPs cut from 650 to 600 over­all.

When the lat­est bound­ary re­view was an­nounced fears had been raised that pre­vi­ous sugges­tions to place the Cam­bus­lang East coun­cil ward in a new Hamil­ton con­stituency could be res­ur­rected.

A new Ruther­glen and East Kil­bride con­stituency, in­clud­ing Cam­bus­lang West, was also mooted.

These formed parts of draft pro­pos­als in 2012, when the Con­ser­va­tive-led coali­tion first an­nounced plans to cut the num­ber of MPs.

But the Lib Dems, who were in coali­tion at the time, re­fused to back the plans and the re­view was shelved.

It was res­ur­rected again when the Tories won a ma­jor­ity at Par­lia­ment last year.

Two of Scot­land’s con­stituen­cies (Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Orkney and Shet­land) are de­fined in leg­is­la­tion and were not sub­ject to change.

The pro­posed con­stituen­cies must not ex­ceed 13,000 square kilo­me­tres and have between 71,031 and 78,507 elec­tors, ex­cept in oc­ca­sional cir­cum­stances.

Coun­cil­lor Robert Brown, who led op­po­si­tion to the last pro­posal, said he hoped the idea of split­ting Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang had been “con­signed to the dust­bin”.

He added: “These are only ini­tial pro­pos­als but I think, at least in our area, they will broadly stand up to scru­tiny.

“It is re­ally im­por­tant that par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tives are able to speak for iden­ti­fied com­mu­ni­ties, while par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies are also an im­por­tant recog­ni­tion of com­mu­nity iden­tity.

“I think the Bound­ary Com­mis­sion have saved them­selves a lot of trou­ble too.

“If they had con­tin­ued the pro­pos­als to split Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang into dif­fer­ent seats they would have faced a vig­or­ous fight by Lib­eral Democrats, along with many other lo­cal peo­ple.”

Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP Mar­garet Fer­rier was pleased to see the seat re­tained but said the cut in MP num­bers was wrong.

“The pro­posed bound­ary change for Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West is cer­tainly a lot more sen­si­ble than the pre­vi­ous aban­doned one, which would have seen the con­stituency split right up the mid­dle, po­ten­tially sep­a­rat­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

“Nev­er­the­less these pro­pos­als to cut the num­ber of elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Scot­land are wholly un­ac­cept­able.

“The num­ber of min­is­ters will not change ac­cord­ingly and there will be fewer back­bench MPs to scru­ti­nise the work of the Gov­ern­ment.”

Scot­land cur­rently ac­counts for 9.1 per cent of MPs but if the changes go through that will be cut to 8.8 per cent.

A con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod on the pro­pos­als will run un­til Jan­uary 17. Mem­bers of the public are en­cour­aged to make their views known and public events have been ar­ranged.

Go to www.bcs2018.org.uk for more in­for­ma­tion.

These are only ini­tial pro­pos­als but they stand up to scru­tiny

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