The Boundary Commission for England are to publish modified recommendations on 1 June 2006 to rename the proposed Normanton and Pontefract County Constituency as Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford County Constituency. The proposed change of name takes account of the objections contained in the representations received following publication of the commission's revised recommendations.
They now confirm their provisional recommendations as their final recommendations for:
Batley and Spen BC
Colne Valley CC
Elmet and Rothwell CC
Leeds Central BC
Leeds East BC
Leeds North East BC
Leeds North West BC
Leeds West BC
Morley and Outwood CC
The Commission have already made final their provisional recommendations for constituencies in the City of Bradford and the Borough of Calderdale.
1. The Commission published their provisional recommendations for West Yorkshire on 23 September 2004. Objections to their proposals led to a public inquiry which was held between 27 June and 5 July
2005 for constituencies in Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. Following receipt of the report on the inquiry from the Assistant Commissioner, Miss Frances Patterson QC, the Commission made only one revision to their provisional recommendations. They changed the name of Pontefract and Castleford CC to Normanton and Pontefract CC. Their revised recommendations were published on 19 January 2006.
2. Following the publication of the revised recommendations the Commission received 295 written representations, 674 proformas (some containing more than one name), and seven petitions containing 5,423 names about the constituencies in Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield.
Seventeen of the written representations approved of all or part of the recommendations, one approved of part while objecting to another part and the remaining representations all objected to various parts.
In excess of 6,392 persons and organisations therefore made representation to the Commission at this stage of the review.
The number and composition of the constituencies allocated to Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield (and to West Yorkshire)
3. The majority of the objections received related to the number and composition of the constituencies allocated to Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. These consisted of 159 letters, 151 proformas, and petitions containing 3,352 names. Substantial objections to the allocation of twenty-two constituencies and their composition were received from Wakefield City Council, the Labour Party, Ed Balls MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Colin Challen MP and Jon Trickett MP. The main issues raised in these representations were:-
a) the abolition of the existing Normanton CC and the reduction of one constituency in the Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield area (and, therefore, in West Yorkshire as a whole);
b) the electoral size of the proposed constituency containing the towns of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford;
c) the creation of a constituency which included wards from the City of Leeds with wards from the City of Wakefield; and
d) the claimed reduction in the representation in Parliament for the City of Wakefield.
The Kirklees Borough wards of Denby Dale and Kirkburton
4. Fifty objections were received about the Commission's proposal that the Denby Dale and Kirkburton wards should be included in Dewsbury CC. The objectors considered that:-
a) the two wards have little in common with Dewsbury;
b) transport links between the wards and Dewsbury are poor;
c) the local ties of the two wards are with Huddersfield or Wakefield; and
d) the two wards have been repeatedly transferred between constituencies at general reviews and so do not wish to be moved again.
5. Two letters were also received objecting to the town of Heckmondwike being located in a different constituency to Dewsbury.
The name of Normanton and Pontefract CC
6. Sixty-seven letters, 523 proformas, and petitions containing 2,071 names objected to the name of Normanton and Pontefract CC not containing any reference to the town of Castleford. The objectors considered that:-
a) the name Castleford had been removed without public consultation;
b) the inclusion of Castleford would not make the name too long;
c) Castleford has a significant history and should be included in the constituency name;
d) Castleford would lose its identity if it was not included in the constituency name; and
e) Castleford is the largest town and commercial centre in the Commission's proposed constituency and second only to Wakefield in size within the district.
7. Various alternatives were submitted for the constituency name all of which included the names of the three towns in different orders.
8. The Commission have given very careful consideration to all the representations received. They have also referred back to the Assistant Commissioner's report, the transcript of the local inquiry, and all the evidence submitted to the inquiry. They have decided
a) the number of constituencies allocated to Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield should be fifteen. When taken with their decisions in respect of Bradford and Calderdale, this will result in an overall allocation of twenty-two constituencies to West Yorkshire instead of twenty-three;
b) the existing Normanton constituency should be abolished and the composition of the constituencies should be as previously recommended; and
c) the name of Normanton and Pontefract CC should be modified to Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford CC.
The number and composition of the constituencies allocated to Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield (and to West Yorkshire)
9. In April 2000, the Commission took initial decisions about the allocation of constituencies to each part of England. These decisions were based on the 2000 electorates and theoretical entitlements for each area. At that time, the Commission noted that the theoretical entitlement to constituencies for West Yorkshire was 22.4920 and that this entitlement had declined since the previous general review in
1991 when it was 22.75. At that stage, they decided that West Yorkshire should provisionally be allocated twenty-two constituencies based on its theoretical entitlement but instructed their Secretariat to prepare options that allocated both twenty-two and twenty-three constituencies when they considered the county: this was expected to be in 2004 when the new local government wards became available.
10. In July 2004, when the Commission met to consider detailed options for the distribution of constituencies in West Yorkshire they noted that, following earlier corrections to the total electorate for England and to the electoral quota, the theoretical entitlement in West Yorkshire had increased very slightly to 22.4959 based on a 2000 electorate of 1,573,252. The Commission note that the latest (2006) electoral statistics for West Yorkshire show that the electorate of the county is 1,536,639, which currently produces a theoretical entitlement to 21.88 constituencies.
11. The Commission considered the options prepared by their Secretariat which allocated both twenty-two and twenty-three constituencies. Having considered the 2000 electorate, the theoretical entitlement, the options and their relative advantages and disadvantages, they decided that they would not retain the current allocation of twenty-three constituencies, but would reduce it by one. They considered that had there been little to choose between the options it might have made their decision as to the number of constituencies to be allocated more difficult. However, they concluded that the allocation of twenty-two constituencies was not only justified by the theoretical entitlement but that it would also allow them to make significant improvements to the constituency electorates within the county and to the electoral disparity across it. In her report, the Assistant Commissioner confirmed that she found the numerical arguments put to her at the local inquiry by those opposing the Commission's proposals to be unconvincing and she did not accept them as a basis for the retention of twenty-three constituencies in West Yorkshire.
12. Whilst the Commission had the 2001 to 2004 electoral data for the county available to them at their meeting in July 2004, they took their decision based on the 2000 electorates. They noted the continuing decrease in West Yorkshire's electorate (and theoretical entitlement to the number of constituencies) and considered that the further decline was supportive of their decision. The Commission concluded that, whilst the option which allocated twenty-two constituencies would affect a greater number of electors, it would produce significantly better electorates than the twenty-three constituency option. In some representations, it has been claimed that the Commission predetermined the number of constituencies that would be allocated to West Yorkshire. The Commission strongly refute that claim. They note that this claim was also made to the Assistant Commissioner who confirmed in her report that she had seen nothing in the evidence before her to indicate that the Commission had approached its recommendations with anything other than an open mind and that they had not, as had been alleged, made the recommendations in a predetermined way.
13. In proposing to reduce the number of constituencies, the Commission were aware that their provisional recommendations would break some local ties and cause inconvenience. However, they noted that the Assistant Commissioner's recommendations would also do the same. When they considered the evidence from the local inquiry, they were able to confirm that this was so in both cases.
14. The Commission also noted that, in making her recommendation for the retention of twenty-three constituencies in West Yorkshire, the Assistant Commissioner had considered that, on balance, it would be premature to abolish the constituency (Normanton) in view of the additional numbers of electors that would be transferred under the provisional recommendations and the local ties that would be broken.
She accepted that this left Normanton as a small constituency and the electoral disparity within West Yorkshire higher than under the Commission's proposals. She stated that in the long term both of these consequences were untenable. She concluded that it was a finely balanced decision and was a matter that should be reviewed at the next periodical review. The Commission agree that it is a finely balanced decision but consider it is a matter that they should address at this general review. Apart from the two errors of fact in the Assistant Commissioner's report identified by the Commission, they do not disagree with her regarding the factual conclusions about local ties. They consider that there is actually very little distance between their position and that of the Assistant Commissioner and consider that the difference between the respective positions is one of judgement and not fact, namely: whether, not withstanding the inconveniences and breaking of local ties identified by the Assistant Commissioner, the adverse consequences identified by her should be remedied now, or left until the next periodical review.
15. While objectors, understandably, focus upon their particular constituency, the Commission has to have regard to the overall picture. The Commission consider that the reduction of one constituency in West Yorkshire (together with the reduction in the number of constituencies in the other Metropolitan Counties and within the London boroughs) will assist them in meeting the requirements of Rule 1 and will help them to limit the increase in the overall number of constituencies throughout England. They also consider that their provisional recommendations better balance the conflicting requirements of the Rules (1, 5 and 7 - see 'Rules'
below) and significantly improve the electoral figures when compared both to the existing situation, which they consider cannot be left unaltered, and the situation that would arise from the Assistant Commissioner's report, which would worsen the existing situation.
16. The Commission consider that the reduction in the electoral disparity between the constituencies in Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield, and the reduction in the electoral disparity between the constituency electorates and the electoral quota, as required by Rule 5, is significant. They also consider that whilst the breaking of some local ties is unfortunate, it is an inevitable consequence of achieving the significant and necessary improvements to the electoral figures.
17. In taking the decision to reject the Assistant Commissioner's report, the Commission were very aware of the sincere local opinion about the loss of the Normanton constituency and of the local ties that would be broken. Indeed, a member of the Commission was in attendance for much of the local inquiry in Wakefield and was able to gauge at first hand that local opinion and report back on it to his Commission colleagues.
18. The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended) does not place any requirement on the Commission to adopt the recommendations of an Assistant Commissioner. Therefore, such recommendations are just that: they are not binding on the Commission. The inquiry and the Assistant Commissioner's report are to inform the Commission in making their, sometimes, very difficult decisions. Whilst the rejection of the recommendations contained in an Assistant Commissioner's report may be unusual, it is far from being without precedent. During previous general reviews there have been a number of occasions on which the Commission have decided to set aside the recommendations of an Assistant Commissioner. Three of these have involved instances where the Commission have disagreed with the Assistant Commissioner over the number of constituencies to be allocated. Two others have involved instances where the Assistant Commissioner's recommendations would have resulted in electoral disparities of around 19,000 and 20,000 electors that the Commission did not consider to be appropriate in the circumstances that pertained.
19. In deciding not to accept the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioner, the Commission not only considered her report and all the representations submitted both before and during the local inquiry, but they also considered a full transcript of the inquiry (which is available on the Commission's website). Although her recommendations caused less disruption to local ties, they did produce a small Normanton constituency (58,959 electors) and an increased electoral disparity of 19,396, compared to the existing disparity of 18,840. The Commission's provisional recommendations produce a much lower electoral disparity (12,666) which is a significant improvement in a situation where it is not only desirable to reduce the disparity but it is practicable to do so.
20. The Commission do not accept, as has been claimed by some who made representations, that they gave wholly disproportionate weight to the errors made in the report by the Assistant Commissioner. They did not base their decision either solely, or principally, on the two errors of fact concerning local ties, but considered that it was important that the two errors should be pointed out. Claims were made in certain of the representations that the Commission had ignored the evidence at the inquiry and the Assistant Commissioner's recommendations. The Commission did consider all the evidence, including the large amount of evidence submitted at the inquiry about local ties, much of which was relevant to the matter in hand and, therefore, reject that contention.
21. In confirming their provisional recommendations, the Commission also noted the significant support given by Kirklees Borough Council, City of Leeds Council, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrat Party for the allocation of twenty-two constituencies to West Yorkshire. All four were represented at the local inquiry and gave evidence.
22. The Commission point out that this will not be the first time that a cross-borough boundary constituency has existed between Leeds and Wakefield. Such a constituency came into effect at the 1983 general election and remained in use until the 1997 general election.
Nor do the Commission consider that a cross-borough boundary constituency will adversely affect the local services that electors in the Wakefield wards receive from Wakefield City Council, as has been claimed by some of those making representations.
23. Mr Ed Balls MP suggested that wards could be divided between constituencies in order to allow some flexibility. The Commission confirm that they are not required by the 1986 Act to use local government wards as their building blocks for Parliamentary constituencies. However, they have a long-standing policy of using them, which is supported by the three Parliamentary political parties. They do not consider that there is any case to depart from that policy in the circumstances that apply to West Yorkshire.
24. One of the representations received by the Commission was from Wakefield City Council. The representation raised many points in respect of the legislation under which the Commission operate, the policies adopted by them and their application of the legislation and their policies. The Commission will be responding directly to the Council on the points they have raised.
The Kirklees Borough wards of Denby Dale and Kirkburton
25. Many of the representations made in respect of the Denby Dale and Kirkburton wards submitted that the two wards should remain in the existing cross-borough boundary Wakefield CC. The Commission recalled that, in considering their provisional recommendations, they were aware that the Kirklees Borough wards of Denby Dale and Kirkburton would be transferred to a new constituency again. This would be a consequence of reducing the number of constituencies in West Yorkshire and by treating the Borough of Kirklees separately and allocating it four whole constituencies.
26. The Commission note that the two wards have previously been in a Dewsbury constituency and that they would now form over half of the area of the new Dewsbury constituency. They do not consider that the wards would be isolated from the rest of the constituency and they note that the Dewsbury constituency would consist solely of Kirklees Borough wards. Also, the Assistant Commissioner reported that she heard little evidence to suggest that local ties would be broken or inconvenience caused by the Commission's proposals for the two wards and that the proposal for them was supported by Kirklees Borough Council. The Commission do not consider that the information contained in the latest representations requires them to make alterations to the proposed Dewsbury constituency.
Second local inquiry
27. Some of those making representations to the Commission requested that a second local inquiry should be held. The Commission consider that the first inquiry was particularly thorough and covered all of the issues raised in respect of their provisional recommendations.
Having considered all the representations submitted in respect of their revised recommendations they do not consider there are any grounds to justify the conduct of a second inquiry.
The name of Normanton and Pontefract CC
28. The Commission noted the representations made to them about the name of the proposed constituency. They decided that whilst a name containing reference to the three towns would be long it would not be longer than some existing constituency names. They decided it would be possible to accommodate the wishes of those who wanted reference to Castleford to be included in the name. Therefore, they will publish modified recommendations for the name of the constituency to be 'Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford CC' as was recommended by the Assistant Commissioner.
Publication of Modified Recommendations
29. The modified recommendations for the change of name of one constituency alone will be published formally in a notice appearing in certain local newspapers in the area covered by that constituency on 1 June 2006. Local authorities, MPs, the Political Parties'
Headquarters, and others will be sent a copy of the recommendations.
The notice will also be published on the Commission's web site at:-
Places of Inspection
30. A copy of this news release and the formal notice of the modified recommendations for the altered constituency name, together with the representations received specifically about the change of name, may be inspected, once the notice has been published in local newspapers on 1 June 2006, at the following places:-
Castleford Civic Centre, Ferrybridge Road, Castleford KNOTTINGLEY Service Access Point - District 3, The Close, Hill Top, Knottingley NORMANTON Service Access Point - District 2, Queen Street, Normanton PONTEFRACT Service Access Point - District 3, Municipal Buildings, Stuart Road, Pontefract
Representation Period: 1 June 2006 to 1 July 2006
31. The Commission are statutorily required to consider representations made about their modified recommendations for the name of the Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford constituency, within one month of local publication on 1 June 2006. The Commission are inviting representations on this matter alone and will not consider further representations about the number and composition of the fifteen proposed constituencies in Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield or about the total number of constituencies to be allocated to West Yorkshire.
32. Representations about the modified name should be addressed to The Boundary Commission for England, Zone D1/02, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ, or faxed to 020 7533 5176, or emailed to email@example.com. All representations received by the Commission will be acknowledged. It should be noted that the Commission are not statutorily required to hold second inquiries into representations about their modified recommendations.
33. Please note that the Commission are also not statutorily required to consider any representations made after 1 July 2006, but will endeavour to take late representations into account. However, the later the representation is made, the more difficult this will be.
The Commission therefore ask that all representations be made within the period stated above. Those who make representations are requested to say whether they approve of, or object to, the Commission's modified recommendations and to give their reasons for approval or objection.
34. The Commission wish to stress that their recommendations relate solely to parliamentary constituencies and do not affect county, district or parish boundaries, local taxes, or the administration of local services, or result in changes to postcodes. Nor is there any evidence that they have an adverse effect on house prices, or car and house insurance premiums. The Commission will not, therefore, take account of any representation made about these issues.
35. The Commission are constituted under Schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. The ex officio Chairman is the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Deputy Chairman, who presides over Commission meetings, is a High Court Judge appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The other two Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State. The two Assessors to the Commission are the Registrar General of England and Wales and the Director General of Ordnance Survey. Assistant Commissioners are lawyers appointed by the Secretary of State to conduct local inquiries.
36. The Commission are required by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 as amended by the Boundary Commissions Act 1992 to conduct a general review of all the constituencies in England every eight to twelve years. The Commission completed their previous general review on 12 April 1995 and must therefore complete the current review after
11 April 2003 and before 12 April 2007. The general review started formally with the publication of a notice in the London Gazette on 17 February 2000. The Commission's recommendations throughout the review must by law be based on the numbers of electors on the electoral registers on that date.
37. In recommending new constituencies, the Commission are required to give effect to the Rules for Redistribution of Seats which are contained in Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act. Rule 1 places a limit on the total number of constituencies. Rule 2 requires single member constituencies. Rule 3 states that a constituency should contain the whole of the City of London and that the name of the constituency should refer to the City of London.
38. Rule 4 states that county and London borough boundaries are to be followed so far as is practicable. Rule 5 states that the electorates of constituencies are to be as nearly equal as practicable and that Rule 4 can be breached in order to avoid large disparities in the electorates. Rule 6 allows the Commission to depart from Rules 4 and
5 if special geographical considerations make a departure desirable.
39. Rule 7 allows the Commission to depart from other Rules; and requires them to take account of inconveniences caused or local ties broken by changes to constituencies. Rule 8 defines the electoral quota as the total number of parliamentary electors in England at the start of a review (i.e. 36,995,495) divided by the existing number of constituencies (529), and requires the Commission to use the electorates as at the start of a review.
40. In conducting a general review of constituencies, the Commission are required by the legislation to follow certain procedures, principally to provide for public consultation. The Secretary of State must be given notice of a review and that notice must be published in the London Gazette. Provisional recommendations must be published in newspapers in the affected constituencies and, unless the proposals are for no changes to be made, they must also be deposited for public inspection in at least one place in each affected constituency.
41. Representations may be made within one month of publication of the provisional recommendations and the Commission must take any representations into consideration. Where objections are received from a Borough Council or a body of 100 or more electors, a local inquiry must be held.
42. If the Commission revise their recommendations as a result of an inquiry, the revised recommendations must also be published and further representations invited and considered. A second local inquiry cannot be forced by these further representations, but there is discretionary power to hold a second inquiry. Any further modifications, as a result of further representations or a second inquiry, must also be published and representations invited. When the Commission have decided their final recommendations for the whole country, they must submit a report to the Secretary of State.
Implementation of the recommendations
43. The Secretary of State has a statutory duty to lay the Commission's report before Parliament together with a draft Order in Council giving effect to the Commission's recommendations with or without modifications. If modifications are proposed, the Secretary of State must also lay a statement of reasons for the modifications.
The draft Order in Council is submitted to both Houses of Parliament for approval and, after it is made by Her Majesty in Council, it cannot be called into question in any legal proceedings. The new constituencies take effect at the general election following the making of the Order in Council.
44. The above information is intended to be a general guide only. For a definitive statement of the law, please refer to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 - as amended by the Boundary Commissions Act 1992, the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, the Government of Wales Act 1998, and the Scotland Act 1998 - together with the Court of Appeal ruling in R v Boundary Commission for England Ex parte Foot  QB 600.
45. Should you require further information about the modified recommendations or about other aspects of the Commission's work please write to the Boundary Commission for England, Zone D1/02, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ. Alternatively, telephone or e-mail:-
West Yorkshire enquiries: 020 7533 5174
General enquiries: 020 7533 5177
Fax: 020 7533 5176
West Yorkshire enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org General enquiries: email@example.com
46. The Internet version of this news release and other documents concerning the general review are available on the Commission's web site at the following address:- http:www.statistics.gov.uk/pbc/