Open Letter to Chris Skidmore MP, Minister for the Constitution, Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS.
13th September 2016
Dear Chris Skidmore MP
Re Boundary Commission and proposed Bideford, Bude and Launceston Constituency
I write to express my deep concern that the Boundary Commission has proposed a cross border, Devon/Cornwall Parliamentary Constituency. This proposal completely undermines the democracy enshrined in Cornwall Council’s Devolution Deal agreed only recently with HM Government, it ignores Cornwall’s history, culture, distinct constitutional status and 1000 year old border. Importantly, it also contradicts the Government’s official recognition in 2014 of the Cornish as a National Minority alongside Wales and Scotland.
I understand that the Boundary Commission is bound by legislation to work within the constraints of the maximum/minimum electorates prescribed for each constituency by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. The size of the electorate in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is just fractionally larger than the maximum prescribed for 5 MPs.
I believe it would be relatively simple for central government to change this legislation. 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 it’s registration website. The Government could deliver a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, to respect the Framework Convention for National Minorities and “Keep Kernow Whole.”
I therefore request an urgent amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 that will allow the Boundary Commission to recognise Cornwall as a discrete entity thereby taking into account wider social, economic, geographic and cultural issues. This will make the legislation consistent with the Government’s recognition of the Cornish under the 2014 European Framework Convention for National Minorities and still be within the spirit of the act.
Furthermore, given an amendment to the act I would request that the Boundary Commission reconsiders its proposal for a cross border constituency and agrees that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly could and should be represented by 5 seats.
Dr Merv Davey, Bardh Meur Kernow/Grand Bard of Cornwall
CC Cornish MPs and Boundary Commission