Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 (c. 1) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made provision for the holding of a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote system in all future general elections to the UK Parliament and also made provision on the number and size of Parliamentary Constituencies. The Bill for the Act was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010 and passed third reading on 2 November by 321 votes to 264.[1] The House of Lords passed the Bill, with amendments, on 14 February 2011,[2] and after some compromises between the two Houses on amendments, it received Royal Assent on 16 February.

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act to make provision for a referendum on the voting system for parliamentary elections and to provide for parliamentary elections to be held under the alternative vote system if a majority of those voting in the referendum are in favour of that; to make provision about the number and size of parliamentary constituencies; and for connected purposes.
Citationc. 1
Introduced byNick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Other legislation
Relates toRepresentation of the People Act 1983, Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000
Status: Amended
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from

The Act

The Act brought together two different constitutional aims of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition:

  • The Liberal Democrats had long promoted an alternative to first-past-the-post elections[3] and so the Act legislated for the holding of a national referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote system for the UK Parliament in all future general elections.
  • Prior to the election, the manifestos of both coalition parties stated that they wished to reduce the number of Members of Parliament from 650: the Conservatives' target figure was 585;[4] the Liberal Democrats' target was 500; the Act set the future number of constituencies as 600. The Act also aimed to fulfil a Conservative aim to reduce the over-representation of Scotland and Wales, relative to the remaining English constituencies.[5][6] The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 later delayed implementation of the changes to the number of constituencies until at least 2018, resulting in the 2015 and 2017 general elections being held without the boundary changes.[7]

Part 1 – Voting Systems for Parliamentary Elections

Part 1 of the Act comprises sections 1 to 9. Section 1 sets out the question to be put to voters, in English and Welsh. Section 4 sets out provisions associated with the date of the Referendum, whereby the date for the poll and one or more 2011 United Kingdom local elections, 2011 Scottish Parliament election, 2011 National Assembly for Wales election or Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2011 will be taken on the same day. Section 9 set out amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983 if the vote was "Yes".

The referendum

The act legislated for a referendum to be held in the United Kingdom on whether to introduce the alternative vote electroal method of electing Members of Parliament (MP’s) to the House of Commons in all future UK general elections on Thursday 5 May 2011. The referendum would be conducted by the Electoral Commission and overseen by an appointed "Chief Counting Officer" (CCO) and a "Deputy chief counting officer" (DCCO) who would declare the final result for the United Kingdom. The Electoral Commission is the public body under the terms of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 that was given the task to raise public awareness ahead of polling day, and to oversee the conduct of the referendum.

Referendum question

The question that appeared on ballot papers in the referendum before the electorate under the act was (in English):

At present, the UK uses the "first past the post" system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the "alternative vote" system be used instead?

In Wales, the question on the ballot paper also appeared in Welsh:

Ar hyn o bryd, mae'r DU yn defnyddio'r system "y cyntaf i’r felin" i ethol ASau i Dŷ'r Cyffredin. A ddylid defnyddio'r system "pleidlais amgen" yn lle hynny?

permitting a simple YES / NO answer (to be marked with a single (X)).

Original proposed question

The original proposed question in English was:[8]

Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the "alternative vote" system instead of the current "first past the post" system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?

In Welsh:

Ydych chi am i'r Deyrnas Unedig fabwysiadu'r system "bleidlais amgen" yn lle'r system "first past the post" presennol ar gyfer ethol Aelodau Seneddol i Dŷ'r Cyffredin?

permitting a simple YES / NO answer (to be marked with a single (X)).

This wording was criticised by the Electoral Commission, saying that "particularly those with lower levels of education or literacy, found the question hard work and did not understand it". The Electoral Commission recommended a changed wording to make the issue easier to understand,[9] and the government subsequently amended the Bill to bring it into line with the Electoral Commission's recommendations.[10]

Voting areas

Under the provisions of the Act, the designation of a "voting area" (also known by some as "Counting areas") on the day of the referendum was to be overseen by "Counting officers" (CO) who were to declare the results of their local areas within the United Kingdom and Gibraltar is as follows:

There were a total of 440 voting areas. 326 in England, 73 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and a single area for Northern Ireland.

Regional counts

The act also provides provision for the results from the "voting areas" to fed into twelve "regional counts" to be overseen by "Regional counting officers" (RCO) which were appointed in the following areas and declared the results for their areas as used under the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 but with the exception of Gibraltar which did not participate in the referendum:

The regions each declared their results once all local voting areas had declared their local results late on Friday 7 May 2011. There was no provision under the Act for any national or regional recounts by the Chief Counting Officer and Regional Counting Officers.


The right to vote in the referendum applied to UK residents who are British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens, in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and the Representation of the People Act 2000. Members of the House of Lords were able to vote in the referendum. Citizens of other EU countries resident in the UK were not allowed to vote unless they were citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta or Cyprus. The same Acts permitted UK nationals who had lived overseas for less than 15 years to vote. Voting on the day of the referendum was from 0700 to 2200 BST (Western European Summer Time). Also under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000 postal ballots were also permitted in the referendum and were sent out to eligible voters some three weeks ahead of the vote. The minimum age for voters in the referendum was 18 years, in accordance with Representation Acts (above). A House of Lords amendment proposing to only make the result of the referendum valid if the national turnout was higher than 40% was defeated in the House of Commons.

Referendum result

United Kingdom AV referendum area results
Of the 440 voting areas in the United Kingdom a total of 430 returned majority votes for "No" whilst just ten returned majority votes for "Yes" with all twelve regional count areas returning "No" majorities.

The result was declared by Chief counting officer (CCO) and the then chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson on Saturday 7 May 2011 after all 440 voting areas and the 12 regions of the United Kingdom had declared their results on a national turnout of 42%.[11] The decision by the electorate in all four countries was a decisive "No" to adopting the alternative vote system in all future United Kingdom general elections.

United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum, 2011
National result
Choice Votes %
No 13,013,123 67.90%
Yes 6,152,607 32.10%
Valid votes 19,165,730 99.41%
Invalid or blank votes 113,292 0.59%
Total votes 19,279,022 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 45,684,501 42.20%
Source: Electoral Commission
Referendum results (without spoiled ballots):
6,152,607 (32.10%)
13,013,123 (67.90%)

Results by counting regions

Region Electorate Voter turnout,
of eligible
Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
  East Midlands 3,348,469 42.8% 408,877 1,013,864 28.74% 71.26%
  East of England 4,263,006 43.1% 530,140 1,298,004 29.00% 71.00%
  Greater London 5,258,802 35.4% 734,427 1,123,480 39.53% 60.47%
  North East England 1,968,137 38.8% 212,951 546,138 28.05% 71.95%
  North West England 5,239,323 39.1% 613,249 1,416,201 30.22% 69.78%
  Northern Ireland 1,198,966 55.8% 289,088 372,706 43.68% 56.32%
  Scotland 3,893,268 50.7% 713,813 1,249,375 36.36% 63.64%
  South East England 6,288,366 43.1% 823,793 1,951,793 29.68% 70.32%
  South West England 4,028,829 44.6% 564,541 1,225,305 31.54% 68.46%
  Wales 2,268,739 41.7% 325,349 616,307 34.55% 65.45%
  West Midlands 4,093,521 39.8% 461,847 1,157,772 28.52% 71.48%
  Yorkshire and the Humber 3,835,075 39.9% 474,532 1,042,178 28.52% 68.71%

Results by constituent countries

Country Electorate Voter turnout,
of eligible
Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
  England 38,323,528 40.7% 4,786,532 10,724,067 30.86% 69.14%
  Northern Ireland 1,198,966 55.8% 289,088 372,306 43.68% 56.32%
  Scotland 3,893,269 50.7% 713,813 1,249,375 36.36% 63.64%
  Wales 2,268,739 41.7% 325,349 616,307 34.55% 65.45%

AV Repeal

The alternative vote system provisions within the Act were repealed following the decisive "No" vote in the referendum on 8 July 2011 via a Statutory Instrument.[12]

Part 2 – Parliamentary Constituencies

Part 2, comprising sections 10 to 13, amends the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 including replacing Schedule 2 to introduce changes to the boundaries and number of UK constituencies, and the processes for their review. The changes for constituencies include:

  • Reducing the number of constituencies in the House of Commons from 650 to 600.
  • Specifying that each constituency will be wholly within one of England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. (All existing constituencies already fulfil this requirement.)
  • Requiring the electorate of constituencies to be within 5 percent of a "United Kingdom electoral quota" (which is the national average of the number of voters per constituency, calculated after four "protected constituencies" have been removed from the equation). This electorate requirement overrides considerations of local geographical and political boundaries with the following exceptions:
    • The two island constituencies of Orkney and Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) are explicitly preserved.
    • Two constituencies for the Isle of Wight. (This is an increase from the single constituency that exists at present.)
    • Constituencies covering more than 12,000 km2 may be lower in electorate than 5 percent below the national average. (Of the current constituencies, this would apply only to the Highland constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber.)
    • Where the difference between the electorate of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom electoral quota multiplied by the number of seats allocated to Northern Ireland exceeds one third of the United Kingdom electoral quota, then the electorate of Northern Irish constituencies shall be:
      • No less than whichever is the lesser of the difference between the average electorate per seat in Northern Ireland and 5% of the United Kingdom electoral quota and 95% of the United Kingdom electoral quota.
      • No more than whichever is the greater of the difference between the average electorate per seat in Northern Ireland and 5% of the United Kingdom electoral quota and 105% of the United Kingdom electoral quota.
  • No constituency may be larger than 13,000 km2.
  • A specific allocation method between the four nations of the United Kingdom.
  • The four boundary commissions of the United Kingdom are to conduct constituency reviews before 1 October 2013 and before 1 October of every subsequent fifth year.
  • The Boundary Commission for England may consider the boundaries of the regions used for elections to the European Parliament in its processes.
  • The link between Westminster and Welsh Assembly constituencies is removed. The government is intending to propose future arrangements for Welsh Assembly constituencies in time for the 2015 Assembly elections.
  • "Public Hearings" to hear views about the boundary commissions' proposals, in place of the previous "Local Inquiries".
  • The consultation period for the public to submit their views in writing is extended to twelve weeks from four weeks.

Passage of Part 2 through Parliament

The bill instructed the boundary commissions to undertake the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies before 2014, which would have involved a significant redistribution of seats between the four parts of the UK and the near-equalisation of constituency sizes by registered electorate. In accordance with this, the Boundary Commissions began a full revision of constituency boundaries with an instruction to reduce the number of constituencies to 600 and to recommend constituencies which are no more than 5% above or below the standard size. However, in August 2012, Liberal Democrats party leader Nick Clegg announced that his party would oppose the implementation of the new constituency boundaries as a reaction to the failure of the government to enact House of Lords reform.[13] In January 2013, the Government lost a vote on this timetable, which effectively ended the entire process.[14] The boundary commissions were required to produce their reports by 1 October 2013 but they announced the cancellation of the reviews on 31 January 2013.[15][16][17][18]


  • Schedule 1 deals with the referendum. This section includes information and instruction relating to the role and responsibilities of Returning Officers, Counting Officers, the Electoral Commission, and the declaration of the referendum result.
  • Schedule 2 outlines the administrative and logistical rules behind the referendum, including ballot paper design, polling station provision, the nature of the counting of the votes and the ballot box design.
  • Schedule 3 amends the rules on proxy and absent voting.
  • Schedule 4 amends or appeals existing Representation of the People Acts and Electoral Administration laws with relation to all aspects of the referendum campaign and polling day.
  • Schedules 5 to 8 set out how the referendum and local/devolved assembly elections will be combined.
  • Schedule 9 builds regulations relating to funding, loans and permitted financial transactions during the referendum campaign.
  • Schedule 10 amends regulations relating to the conduct of polling day in the event of the United Kingdom adopting the alternative vote.
  • Schedule 11 outlines consequential amendments and repeals.

The Act does not alter the structure and independence of the various boundary commissions that are responsible for carrying out reviews of constituencies.


As per section 19, the majority of the provisions of the Act came into force upon Royal Assent. However, under section 8, the alternative vote provisions could have come into force only if more votes were cast in the referendum in favour of the answer "Yes" than in favour of the answer "No"; and the Order in Council giving effect to the new boundaries had been made. In any case, the referendum was resoundingly defeated, and so the alternative vote provisions were repealed on 8 July 2011.[12]


The initial timeline for consideration of the Bill was set out at the beginning of the process.[19]

  • 6 September 2010. Commons: Second Reading
  • 12–25 October 2010. Commons: Committee Stage (line-by-line discussion, amendment and alteration of the bill by a Committee of the whole House)
  • 1–2 November 2010. Commons: Report Stage
  • 2 November 2010. Commons: Third Reading
  • 15–16 November 2010. Lords: Second Reading
  • 30 November 2010. Lords: Committee Stage
  • February 2011. Conclusion of Lords stages and Royal Assent

The Bill passed through the House of Commons on schedule. The committee stage in the House of Lords began on 30 November 2010, and on the second day of Committee stage debate the Government were defeated when an amendment moved by Lord Rooker allowing the date of the AV referendum to be varied from 4 May 2011 was carried by 199 to 195.[20]

Labour Parliamentarians opposed the sections of the Bill relating to constituencies, asserting that it amounted to a 'gerrymander', and urged the Government to divide the Bill into two so that the section relating to the referendum on voting systems could be passed swiftly.[21] The Prime Minister dismissed requests that the two elements of the Bill should be split.[22]

By the middle of January, with the Bill having had eight days of consideration in Committee in the House of Lords, the Government voiced concern about the length of time being taken for a Bill which needed to be enacted by 16 February in order to allow the planned referendum to take place in May. Three of the Lords' four sitting days in the following week were set aside for the Bill and the Prime Minister's spokesman commented that some could be long days, with the House possibly sitting all night.[23] The Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, complained that "the Labour peers are on a go-slow" and filibustering the Bill. He was reported to be considering introducing a guillotine motion to the debate, which would have been an unprecedented move for the House of Lords.[24]

On 17 January, consideration of the Bill in Committee began at 3:10 PM.[25] After a dinner break for an hour in the evening, at 11:38 PM the House had completed debate on only one amendment. Lord Trefgarne moved a rare closure motion "that the question be now put" which was carried, bringing an end to debate on a second amendment.[26] After fending off Labour attempts to adjourn the House at 12:14 AM, 3:31 AM, and 9:01 AM, the sitting continued until 12:52 PM on 18 January.[27] In order to keep Peers present during the all night sitting, the Coalition provided refreshment and arranged for celebrity Peers such as Julian Fellowes and Sebastian Coe to give talks. Parliamentary officials turned two committee rooms into makeshift dormitories for male and female Peers.[28] During the whole sitting, only eight amendments were debated.

The convenor of the Crossbench Peers, Baroness D'Souza, made it clear that she would strongly oppose any attempt to guillotine debate,[29] and at the end of January Strathclyde announced that (after discussion with Labour through the 'usual channels') the Government would bring forward a "package of concessions" in order to break the deadlock.[30] The Committee stage concluded on 2 February after 17 days of debate.

Report stage of the Bill in the House of Lords took place on 7, 8 and 9 February 2011, and the Bill was given a Third Reading and passed back to the Commons with amendments on 14 February.

Reaction and analysis

Upon launching the bill, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that "by making constituencies more equal in size, the value of your vote will no longer depend on where you live, and with fewer MPs the cost of politics will be cut."[31] While Labour promised a referendum for AV in their election manifesto, they announced that they would nevertheless oppose the Bill, saying that the constituency boundary changes would help the Conservatives.[32]

There was strong cross-party opposition to the bill in Cornwall as the boundary of Cornwall will not be respected when constituency boundaries are drawn up. Commenting on this, Prime Minister David Cameron said "It's the Tamar, not the Amazon, for Heaven's sake." Around 500 people gathered at a rally in Saltash organised by its mayor, Adam Killeya. Guest speakers included Conservative MP Sheryll Murray, Liberal Democrat MP Steve Gilbert, and Mebyon Kernow councillor and deputy leader Andrew Long. Speaking to the crowds, Steve Gilbert said that "This is Cornwall and over there, that's England. When David Cameron said this is not the Amazon he was right... it's much more important." On the same day the Cornish and Celtic campaigner Michael Chappell announced that he would be going on hunger strike over the boundary issue.[33][34][35][36][37]

During the bill's second reading in the House of Commons, Nick Clegg said that the bill would help "restore people's faith in the way they elect their MPs" while Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Jack Straw called it "deeply flawed and partisan".[38]

In October 2010, the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee reported on the bill.[39]


  1. ^ "MPs back voting change referendum". BBC News Online. 2 November 2010.
  2. ^ Lords Hansard
  3. ^ "The Liberal Democrats on Political Reform". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  4. ^ "The Conservative Party | Policy | Where we stand | Cleaning Up Politics". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  5. ^ "In Depth: The Conservatives will suffer electorally from the Liberal Democrats' revenge over failure to support House of Lords reform". British Politics and Policy at LSE. 1 March 2013. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Population Density Tables, 1981 to 2010 - (PARTIALLY SUPERSEDED) - ONS".
  7. ^ Hope, Christopher (18 April 2017). "June 2017 election will be fought without boundary changes amid suggestions policy will be dropped". The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill as introduced (House of Commons Bill 63 of Session 2010–12).
  9. ^ "Voting referendum question 'too hard', says watchdog". BBC News. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  10. ^ Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill as passed by the Commons (House of Lords Bill 26 of Session 2010–12).
  11. ^, 7 May 2011
  12. ^ a b The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 (Repeal of Alternative Vote Provisions) Order 2011 SI 2011/1702
  13. ^ Jowit, Juliette (6 August 2012). "Nick Clegg blocks boundary changes after Lords reform retreat". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "MPs vote on boundary changes: Politics live blog". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Closure of 2013 review". Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Sixth Periodic Review - Index". Bcomm-Scotland. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  17. ^ "The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland". The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Statement Regarding the 2013 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies". Boundary Commission for Wales. 31 January 2013. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  19. ^ Bill Stages
  20. ^ Government defeated on AV referendum date BBC News
  21. ^ "BBC - Democracy Live - Q&A: Parliamentary Voting Bill".
  22. ^ "AV referendum bill 'delayed by Labour lords'". 14 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  23. ^ "Ministers are determined to push through voting reform bill", Western Morning News, 14 January 2011, p. 15.
  24. ^ Wintour, Patrick (14 January 2011). "Peer pressure as Labour threatens to derail alternative vote bill". The Guardian.
  25. ^ Hansard, HL 5ser vol 724 col 12.
  26. ^ Hansard HL 5ser vol 724 col 138.
  27. ^ Hansard HL 5ser vol 724 col 324.
  28. ^ Allegra Stratton (18 January 2011). "Peers bed down for marathon session to pass reform bill". The Guardian. p. 9. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  29. ^ Toby Helm (30 January 2011). "Voting reform bill: peers threaten 'mass revolt' over guillotine attempt". The Observer. p. 7. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Lords deadlock over vote reform is broken". The Independent. 1 February 2011. p. 8. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  31. ^ "AV referendum question published". BBC News Online. 22 July 2010.
  32. ^ "Cameron: Labour 'opportunistic' in opposing AV vote". BBC News Online. 28 July 2010.
  33. ^ "HUNDREDS of people gathered on the Cornish banks of the River Tamar at the weekend to campaign against plans to create a parliamentary constituency which straddles the Cornwall and Devon border". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  34. ^ "It may not be "the Amazon for heaven's sake" but if David Cameron had been on the wrong side of the Tamar at the weekend he would have been under no illusion as to what "Cornish lads (and maids) can do"". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  35. ^ "Chief Reporter". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  36. ^ "BBC News - Rally over joint Devon and Cornwall constituency plan". 2010-10-10. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  37. ^ "A campaigner says he is prepared to go on hunger strike if calls to scrap a planned merger of Parliamentary constituencies from either side of the River Tamar fall on deaf ears". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  38. ^ "Referendum bill will restore faith in politics – Clegg". BBC News Online. 6 September 2010.
  39. ^ Third Report of the 2010–11 Session: Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.

External links

2011 United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum

The United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum, also known as the UK-wide referendum on the Parliamentary voting system was held on Thursday 5 May 2011 (the same date as local elections in many areas) in the United Kingdom (UK) to choose the method of electing MPs at subsequent general elections. It occurred as part of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement drawn up after the 2010 general election which had resulted in the first hung parliament since February 1974 and also indirectly in the aftermath of the 2009 expenses scandal. It operated under the provisions of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 and was the first national referendum to be held under provisions laid out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

The referendum concerned whether or not to replace the present "first-past-the-post" system with the "alternative vote" (AV) method and was the first national referendum to be held across the whole of the United Kingdom in the twenty first century. The proposal to introduce AV was overwhelmingly rejected by 67.9% of voters on a national turnout of 42%.

This was only the second UK-wide referendum to be held (first was the EC referendum in 1975) and is to date the only UK-wide referendum to be held on an issue not related to the European Economic Community (Common Market) or European Union as well as being the first UK-wide referendum to be overseen by the Electoral Commission. It was also the first that was not merely consultative: it committed the government to give effect to its decision.All registered electors over 18 (British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens living in the UK and enrolled British citizens living outside) – including Members of the House of Lords (who cannot vote in UK general elections) – were entitled to take part.

On a turnout of 42.2 per cent, 68 per cent voted "No" and 32 percent voted "Yes". Ten of the 440 local voting areas recorded "Yes" votes above 50 per cent: those in Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin, with the remaining six in London.The campaign was described in retrospect by political scientist Iain McLean as a "bad-tempered and ill-informed public debate".

Boundary commissions (United Kingdom)

The boundary commissions in the United Kingdom are non-departmental public bodies responsible for determining the boundaries of constituencies for elections to the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. There are four separate boundary commissions:

Boundary Commission for England

Boundary Commission for Scotland

Boundary Commission for Wales (Welsh: Comisiwn Ffiniau i Gymru)

Boundary Commission for Northern IrelandEach commission comprises four members, three of whom take part in meetings. The Speaker of the House of Commons is ex officio chairman of each of the boundary commissions. However, the Speaker does not play any part in proceedings, and a Justice is appointed to each boundary commission as Deputy Chairman Commissioner.

Jenny Watson

Jennifer Watson CBE (born 25 January 1964), better known as Jenny Watson, is the former chairperson of the United Kingdom Electoral Commission. A long term campaigner for women's rights, she had a 20+ year career in the not for profit sector. She started out at Liberty, and then political campaigners Charter88, before moving to Victim Support. She is a former Chair of the Fawcett Society, a not-for-profit organisation campaigning for equality between women and men.Watson was the last chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission before the creation of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, having been first appointed as a commissioner in 1999, and deputy chair from 2000. She was deputy chairman of the Banking Code Standards Board, and of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.Watson is a director of Global Partners and Associates. She is a member of the Advertising Standards Authority's advertising advisory committee, and sits on the Council of the Women's Library at London Metropolitan University. She currently sits on the board of the Audit Commission, but her tenure will not be renewed. She is a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation, a non-executive director of the Waste & Resources Action Programme, and a trustee of the Money Advice Trust.Watson was appointed the second chair of the Electoral Commission in January 2009. She is paid £100,000 for a role which requires her to work three days a week. Watson remained chair of the electoral commission amidst criticism of her management of the 2010 United Kingdom general election, when she defended herself on the grounds that the Electoral Commission had few powers over returning officers. Since then, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 has increased the Commission's authority with regard to referendums. She formally announced the results of the Welsh devolution referendum "in both English and Welsh with perfect pronunciation". Just two months later, she acted as Chief Counting Officer (CCO) in the 2011 AV Referendum and also acted in the same capacity in the 2016 EU Referendum. In doing so, she became the first person to oversee two UK-wide referendums as Chief Counting Officer.Watson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to electoral democracy.

Liberal Party

Liberal Party is a name for political parties around the world. The meaning of liberal varies across the world, ranging from liberal conservatism on the right to social liberalism on the left.


NOtoAV was a political campaign in the United Kingdom whose purpose was to persuade the public to vote against the Alternative Vote (AV) in the referendum on 5 May 2011. NOtoAV was successful in maintaining the current voting system having received 67.9% of votes cast.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar (UK Parliament constituency)

Na h-Eileanan an Iar (; Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [nəˈhelanən əˈɲiəɾ]; formerly Western Isles is a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, created in 1918. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986

The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (c. 56) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is the current legislation defining the constitution and work of the four parliamentary Boundary Commissions in the UK. A copy of the current text of the legislation, incorporating all current amendments, is available from the legislation section of the Boundary Commission for Scotland website.The 1986 Act consolidated earlier legislation, namely the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 and the Acts of the same name of 1958 and 1979.

Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee

The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee was a select committee of the House of Commons in the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015.

Referendums in the United Kingdom

Referendums in the United Kingdom are occasionally held at a national, regional or local level. National referendums can be permitted by an Act of Parliament and regulated through the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, but they are by tradition extremely rare due to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty meaning that they cannot be constitutionally binding on either the Government or Parliament, although they usually have a persuasive political effect.

Until the latter half of the twentieth century the concept of a referendum was widely seen in British politics as "unconstitutional" and an "alien device". As of 2018, only three national referendums have ever been held across the whole of the United Kingdom: in 1975, 2011 and most recently in 2016.

Two of these referendums were held on the issue of the United Kingdom's relationship with Europe with the first held on the issue of continued membership of what was known at the time as the European Communities (EC), which was the collective term for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC), and was also referred to by many at that time as the "Common Market". This was the 1975 European Communities membership referendum which was held two and a half years after the United Kingdom became a member on 1 January 1973 and was the first national referendum ever to be held within the United Kingdom. The second took place forty-one years later by which time the various European organisations (with the exception of EAEC) had been integrated by subsequent treaty ratifications into the European Union (EU) when the electorate was asked to vote again on the issue of continued membership in the 2016 European Union membership referendum.

The 2011 AV referendum on the proposal to use the alternative vote system in parliamentary elections is the only UK-wide referendum that has been held on a domestic issue. The referendum was held as a result of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement which was drawn up after the 2010 general election.

The Government of the United Kingdom has also to date held eleven major referendums within the constituent countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on issues of devolution, sovereignty and independence; the first such referendum was the 1973 Northern Ireland border poll and, as of 2018, the most recent is the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

There have also been numerous referendums held by local authorities on issues such as temperance and directly elected mayors.

Reform Act

In the United Kingdom, Reform Act is legislation concerning electoral matters. It is most commonly used for laws passed in the 19th century and early 20th century to enfranchise new groups of voters and to redistribute seats in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868

The Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c. 49) was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

It did not alter the overall distribution of parliamentary seats in Ireland, but did alter their boundaries, including making the electoral constituency of a borough be the same as its municipal boundaries.

Representation of the People Act 1949

The Representation of the People Act 1949 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act consolidated previous electoral law, but also made some changes to administration.

The principal change was to provide for the conduct of future reviews of Parliamentary boundaries by the permanent Parliamentary Boundary Commissions. The Act also abolished the terms 'Parliamentary Borough' and 'Parliamentary County', renaming them 'Borough constituency' and 'County constituency', abolished the university constituencies, and removed a requirement that the City of London form its own constituency. The Boundary Commissions were instructed to review all boundaries within 3-7 years from the Act coming into force, and thereafter to review the boundaries periodically.

In addition the Act made some changes to the franchise, removing the remaining provisions allowing plural voting by people who owned business premises. From this point forward, there was a single electoral register for both local government and Parliamentary elections and each voter was only allowed to vote once in any general election even if they happened to be registered in more than one address for local elections.

Representation of the People Act 1969

The Representation of the People Act 1969 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This statute is sometimes known as the Sixth Reform Act. The 1970 United Kingdom general election (18 June) is the first in which this Act had effect.

Representation of the People Act 1985

The Representation of the People Act 1985 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom concerning British electoral law.

The Act allows British citizens who are resident outside the United Kingdom to qualify as "overseas electors" in the constituency for which they were last registered for a period of five years after they have left (this was subsequently changed to 20 years and is now 15 years). Expatriate electors were able to register as overseas electors at British consular posts, starting in the summer of 1986. When registered, expatriate voters were eligible to vote by proxy at any Parliamentary or European Parliament elections which were held after the 1987 register came into force on 16 February, 1987. It was estimated that half-a-million British expatriates were enfranchised by the Act.The Act also made British people abroad on holiday eligible to vote by postal ballot or by proxy, as well as those who were not reasonably expected to be able to by being physically present at the polling station.

The Act modified the rules concerning deposits in Parliamentary elections. Previously the deposit had been £150 and was under this Act raised to £500. The percentage of votes needed to retain the deposit was lowered from 12½% to 5%. The deposit for election to the European Parliament were raised from £600 to £700.

Representation of the People Act 1989

The Representation of the People Act 1989 (c. 28) is an act by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

It extended the time that a British citizen could have lived abroad and still vote from 5 years to 20 years, and extended this right to people who were too young to vote at the time of leaving Britain.

Representation of the People Act 1990

The Representation of the People Act 1990 (RPA 1990) added a minor amendment to previous Acts. The act allowed a person no longer resident at their qualifying address or at any other address in the same area to be eligible for an absentee vote for an indefinite period at Parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom and local government elections in Great Britain. Those who still lived in the same parliamentary constituency in Greater London or the former metropolitan counties, the same electoral division of a non-metropolitan English county, Scotland or Wales, or the same ward in Northern Ireland.

Representation of the People Act 2000

The Representation of the People Act 2000 (c.2) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that changed the British electoral process in the following ways, entailing minor amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983:

It removed most restrictions on postal voting and proxy voting.

It allows psychiatric hospitals to be used as a registration address.

It requires additional assistance for disabled voters, particularly visually impaired voters.

It made provision for new regulations governing the access, sale and supply of electoral registers.

Results of the 2011 United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum

In the United Kingdom, the Alternative Vote referendum also known as the UK-wide referendum on the Parliamentary voting system was a referendum that took place on 5 May 2011, on whether to change the system for electing the House of Commons, the lower house of the national Parliament at Westminster. In the result of a Yes vote, future United Kingdom general elections would have used the "Alternative Vote" (AV); in the event of a No vote, the voting system would remain the same, with the UK continuing to use the "First Past the Post" (FPTP) voting system. The votes cast in the referendum were first counted in each of 440 districts or electoral divisions across the country (the "local counting areas"), which were then combined and declared at a regional level (the regions being the constituent countries of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the regions of England).

Under the provisions of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 there was a total of 440 voting areas across twelve regions using the same boundaries as used in European Parliamentary elections since 1999 under the provisions of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 with the exception of Gibraltar which did not participate in the referendum. In England the 326 local government districts were used as the voting areas; these consist of all unitary authorities, all metropolitan boroughs, all shire districts, the London boroughs, the City of London and the Isles of Scilly. As the date of the plebiscite coincided with elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly different arrangements were required for the devolved nations so in Scotland the 73 Scottish Parliamentary constituencies were used as the Scottish counting areas and in Wales the 40 Welsh assembly constituencies were used as the Welsh counting areas and Northern Ireland was a single counting area.

Ballots were due to be verified by 1pm on 6 May 2011 and the votes were counted from 4pm onwards. Both the local and regional results were updated live online via, a publicly accessible website run by the Electoral Commission.This article lists, by voting area, all the results of the referendum, each ordered into national and regional sections.

United Kingdom Parliament constituencies

The United Kingdom Parliament currently has 650 Parliamentary constituencies across the constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), each electing a single Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons by the plurality (first past the post) system of election, ordinarily every five years. Voting last took place in all 650 of those constituencies at the United Kingdom general election on 8 June 2017, and these results have been counted and verified.

The number of seats rose from 646 at the 2005 general election after proposals made by the boundary commissions for England, Wales and Northern Ireland were adopted through statutory instruments. Constituencies in Scotland remained unchanged, as the Boundary Commission for Scotland had completed a review just before the 2005 general election.

Primary legislation provides for the independence of the boundary commissions for each of the four parts of the UK; the number of seats for each of the countries; permissible factors to use in departing from any old boundaries; and a strong duty to consult. For the 2013 review this was primarily the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. The Sainte-Laguë formula method is used to form groups of seats split between the four parts of the United Kingdom and the English Regions (as defined by EU Parliament Elections).The electorate figures given in the second column of the tables below are those used by the commissions during their reviews. These electorate figures date from the start of the review in each country: England, February 2000; Scotland, June 2001; Wales, December 2002; and Northern Ireland, May 2003. Of the 650 seats listed below, 533 are in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland.

Pre-Parliamentary legislation
Acts of Parliament by states preceding
the Kingdom of Great Britain
Acts of Parliament of the
Kingdom of Great Britain
Acts of the Parliament of Ireland
Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
and the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Church of England measures
Legislation of devolved institutions
Orders in Council
Secondary legislation
General elections
Local elections
European elections
Referendum question
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