Friday, 23 September 2016

Advice on how to oppose the Devonwall seat … UPDATED

Earlier this year, the UK Government has commenced a review of parliamentary constituencies and, on Tuesday 13th September, the Boundary Commission (for England) announced recommendations which include a “Devonwall” seat, Known as “Bideford, Bude and Launceston.”

Please join Mebyon Kernow and other Cornish organisations in opposing the creation of such a cross-Tamar constituency. The creation of such a seat would be an unprecedented disaster, breaching the very territorial integrity of the historic nation of Cornwall.

Here is some advice on what you can do:

Please demand an amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act

The Boundary Review process is being driven by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which became law in 2011.

The Act reduces the number of constituencies to 600 and states that, apart from four specific constituencies (Orkney & Shetland, the Western Isles, and two seats for the Isle of Wight), the electorates for individual seats must be within 5% of the United Kingdom average. This equates to between 71,031 and 78,507 votes in each seat.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were protected as entities in the legislation, but sadly Cornwall was not.

The electorate of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (recorded in December) means we would be entitled to about 5.27 MPs and it was therefore a statistical impossibility for the Boundary Commission to propose five seats for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

That is why we need to build a massive campaign to put pressure on central government and Members of Parliament to modify the existing legislation to ensure that Cornish constituencies remain whole and lie entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly).

Please lobby the UK Government and Cornwall’s six MPs

Please also join us in writing to the UK Government to demand that the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act be amended.

Please send correspondence to:

Chris Skidmore MP, Minister for the Constitution,
Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS and / or

Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA and / or via

Your local Cornish MPs
c/o House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA and / or

Please write to the Boundary Commission

Even though the Boundary Commission does not have the power to make recommendations to protect Cornwall’s historic border, we also need to swamp them with letters and other representations showing that a cross-Tamar seat is not appropriate.

Please send correspondence to:

Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ and / or

The Boundary Commission has also set up a new website through which people can comment on the proposed new constituencies. This can be found

There will be plenty of opportunities to make your views known. There will be an initial 12-week consultation, which started on 13th September, and a public hearing will be held in Cornwall on 10th and 11th November in Truro. There will then be a secondary consultation on representations received. Once the Boundary Commission has reviewed the evidence it will produce further reports in advance of a further eight-week consultation on its final proposals.

But the key message must be that we request the Boundary Commission supports our calls for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act to be amended to Keep Cornwall Whole.

And here are some key arguments that you can use in your letters and emails ...

Cornwall is a Celtic nation with its own distinct identity, culture and language – just like Scotland and Wales. The border between Cornwall and England has been in place since the early tenth century and should have been respected by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, just as the borders between England & Scotland and England & Wales are reinforced by the legislation. Cornwall also has a unique constitutional position which sets it apart from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Following the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill becoming an Act in 2011, central government bowed to years of pressure and recognised the Cornish as a national minority (April 2014) through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Central government stated that: “The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.” But the Act is in conflict with the Framework Convention which, as well as protecting the culture and identity of national minorities, also seeks to protect the political integrity of territories associated with such groups.

In the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, the territories of other national minorities within the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are not breached and it is therefore illogical that the same safeguards should not be applied to Cornwall.

Cornwall is not seeking to be over-represented in the Westminster Parliament. In December 2015, Cornwall’s electorate was 392,223, while that of the Isles of Scilly was 1,651, making a total of 393,874. If Cornwall had five seats, the average electorate would be about 78,775, which is extremely close to the top end of the Government's own range of between 71,031 and 78,507 electors per seat.

It would also be relatively simple for central government to do amend the Act. Only a few months ago, the Government agreed “emergency” legislation to extend the deadline for people seeking to register to vote in the referendum on the European Union following the failure of the Government’s registration website. The Government could likewise deliver a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, to respect the Framework Convention and Keep Cornwall Whole.

And watch out for the protest coming up on 30 October ...

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