FAQs

Why is the review taking place?
Who is carrying out the review?
What are Boundary Commissions?
How many constituencies will there be in Northern Ireland?

Which Northern Ireland constituencies will be lost?
What size do the constituencies have to be?
What is Rule 7?
What factors have been taken into account besides electorate size?
What is the review timetable?
What is the review process?
Will constituencies be different after this review?
How are constituencies allocated to each part of the United Kingdom?
How can I find out more?
What happens next?
How can I participate?
Must the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland accept the Commission’s Recommendations?
Will the 6th review have any effect on NI Assembly constituencies?

Why is the review taking place?

  • The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 requires that a review of all Westminster constituencies be completed by the four UK Boundary Commissions before 1 October 2013.

Who is carrying out the review?

  • The review is being carried out by the 4 parliamentary Boundary Commissions in the United Kingdom, one each for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What are Boundary Commissions?

  • The Commissions are permanent bodies independent of Government. Their role is to keep under review the number, names and boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies and report to the Secretary of State.
  • The Speaker of the House of Commons is the Chairman of each of the four Commissions.
  • There are three members of the Northern Ireland Commission. The Deputy Chairman, who presides over Commission meetings, is a High Court Judge appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. The Commission's two other members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

How many constituencies will there be in Northern Ireland?

  • The legislation requires a reduction in the number of UK constituencies from 650 to 600.
  • Constituencies are allocated to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland broadly in proportion to their electorates, using the formula set out in the legislation.
  • For the Sixth Review, Northern Ireland has been allocated 16 seats: down from 18.

Which Northern Ireland constituencies will be lost?

    What size do the constituencies have to be?

    • The UK electoral quota, based on parliamentary electoral register of 1 December 2010, is 76,641.
    • Constituency electorates are to be within 5% of the UK quota (i.e. no less than 72,810 and no more than 80,473).
    • Rule 7 of the 2011 Act, allows Northern Ireland constituencies to deviate from the quota in certain prescribed circumstances.

    What is Rule 7?

    • Rule 7 of the legislation applies only to Northern Ireland.
    • It permits Northern Ireland constituency electorates to vary by more than 5% from the UK quota when (1) the NI average differs from the quota by more than one third of the quota; and (2) the Boundary Commission considers that the application of the 5% range would unreasonably impair its ability to take into account the factors identified at Rule 5.
    • This means that for the 6th review, some Northern Ireland constituencies could have had as few as 70,583 voters.

    What factors have been taken into account besides electorate size?

    • We are able to take into account special geographical considerations, ward boundaries, existing constituency boundaries and local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.
    • However, these discretionary powers are subject to the overriding requirement to construct constituencies within +/-5% of the quota.

    What is the review timetable?

    • We are required to submit our final report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before 1 October 2013.
    • The review is taking place simultaneously for all parts of the UK.
    • Subsequent reviews will take place every 5 years.

    What is the review process?

    • Information about the review process is contained in the “Guide to the Sixth Review of Parliamentary Constituencies (PDF 105 KB)” on our website www.boundarycommission.org.uk
    • On 13 September we published Provisional Proposals (PDF 280 KB) for a 12 week public consultation, including three public hearings.
    • We published the written representations received and transcripts of the public hearings for a further 4 week secondary consultation period on 31 January 2012.
    • After careful consideration of the all the representations received, we published Revised Proposals (PDF 3.3 MB) on 16 October 2012 for an 8 week consultation period. The consultation on the Revised Proposals will end on 10 December 2012.
    • We may make further amendments to our proposals in our final report but these will not be subject to further consultation.
    • We must submit our final report to the Secretary of State before 1 October 2013.

    Will constituencies be different after this review?

    • In our Provisional proposals, we concluded that incremental changes (i.e. the transfer of seven or fewer electoral wards) would be required in nine existing constituencies: Belfast North; Fermanagh and South Tyrone; Foyle; Lagan Valley; Newry and Armagh; North Down; South Antrim; South Down; and Upper Bann. In other places more substantial changes would be needed.
    • In our Revised Proposals further changes have been made, chiefly the further reconfiguration of the Antrim constituencies and changes to the boundary between Mid Tyrone and Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

    How are constituencies allocated to each part of the United Kingdom?

    • Constituencies are allocated broadly in proportion to the electorate of each of the 4 parts of the United Kingdom, using the Sainte-Laguë method. The legislation sets out the calculation steps.
    • The two Scottish island constituencies and the 2 Isle of Wight constituencies are not included in the constituency allocation process.

    How can I find out more?

    • We will update the website with all information about the review as it becomes available.
    • We will also issue News Releases at key stages of the review.

    What happens next?

    • We published Provisional Proposals (PDF 280 KB) for the 16 new Northern Ireland constituencies on 13 September 2011 and invited representations.
    • All representations received and the transcripts of the public hearings were published for public scrutiny on 31 January 2012 for a secondary consultation period of 4 weeks. Responses were accepted up to 27 February 2012. The Submissions and Transcripts are available on our website.
    • On 16 October 2012 we published Revised Proposals (PDF 3.3 MB) for a further 8-week final public consultation. The Revised Proposals are on our website and are also available at display points around Northern Ireland. This consultation period will end on 10 December 2012.
    • We may incorporate further amendments to our constituency proposals into our Final Report without further public consultation.
    • We must submit our Final Report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who is responsible for laying it before Parliament, by 1 October 2013

    How can I participate?

    • Comment during the public consultation stages. The final consultation stage, on the Revised Proposals report, began on 16 October 2012 and will finish on 10 December 2012.
    • For more information please go to have your say.
    • Keep an eye on our website to keep track of the review.

    Must the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland accept the Commission’s Recommendations?

    • Under the 2011 Act, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland may only make modifications to a Commission’s report at the request of the Commission accompanied by a statement of the reasons for the modifications requested.

    Will the 6th review have any effect on NI Assembly constituencies?

    • Section 33 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 provides that the boundaries of the Northern Ireland Assembly constituencies are the same as the Parliamentary constituencies, with each constituency returning 6 Assembly members.
    • Unless the legislation is amended, any change to the number of parliamentary constituencies will affect the number of Northern Ireland Assembly seats at the next Assembly election.