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In the United Kingdom (UK), each of the electoral areas or divisions called constituencies elects one or more members to a parliament or assembly.

Within the United Kingdom there are now five bodies with members elected by constituencies and one that was abolished:

Electoral areas called constituencies are also used in elections to the European Parliament. (See European Parliament constituencies.)

In local government elections, electoral areas are called wards or electoral divisions.

Contents

County constituencies and borough constituencies

House of Commons, Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly constituencies are designated as either county or borough constituencies, except that in Scotland the term burgh is used instead of borough. Borough constituencies are predominantly urban. They are the successors of the historic parliamentary boroughs and parliamentary burghs. (Each of the burghs, except for one, was a component in a district of burghs constituency. The exception was the burgh of Edinburgh, which was also, in its own right, the Edinburgh constituency.)

County constituencies are the successors to the historic parliamentary divisions of counties, and most are predominantly rural in nature. Sometimes a town can be covered by more than one constituency, with one a borough and another a county. Reading and Milton Keynes are both examples of this.

The spending limits for election campaigns are different in the two, the reasoning being that candidates in county constituencies tend to need to travel further.

Elected body Constituency type
borough/burgh county
House of Commons[1][2] £7,150 + 5p per elector £7,150 + 7p per elector
Northern Ireland Assembly £5,483 + 4.6p per elector £5,483 + 6.2p per elector
Scottish Parliament
Welsh Assembly
£5,761 + 4.8p per elector £5,761 + 6.5p per elector

For by-elections to any of these bodies, the limit in all constituencies is £100,000[3][4].

House of Commons constituencies

As of the 2005 United Kingdom general election, the House of Commons has 646 constituencies covering the whole of the United Kingdom. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the "first past the post" system of election.

The House of Commons is one of the two legislative bodies of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the other being the House of Lords.

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See also

London Assembly constituencies

There are fourteen London Assembly constituencies covering the Greater London area, and each constituency elects one member of the assembly by the first past the post system of election. Also, eleven additional members are elected from Greater London as a whole to produce a form or degree of mixed member proportional representation.

Constituency names and boundaries remain now as they were for the first general election of the assembly, in 2000.

The assembly is part of the Greater London Authority and general elections of the assembly are held at the same time as election of the Mayor of London.

Northern Ireland Assembly constituencies

Scottish Parliament constituencies

Scottish Parliament constituencies are sometimes called Holyrood constituencies, to distinguish them from Westminster (House of Commons) constituencies. The Scottish Parliament Building is in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh, while the main meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Palace of Westminster, in the City of Westminster.

There are 73 Holyrood constituencies covering Scotland, and each elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election. Also, the constituencies are grouped into eight electoral regions, and each of these regions elects seven additional members, to produce a form or degree of mixed member proportional representation.

The existing constituencies were created, effectively, for the first general election of the Scottish Parliament, in 1999. When created, all but two had the names and boundaries of Westminster constituencies. The two exceptions were the Orkney Holyrood constituency, covering the Orkney Islands council area, and the Shetland Holyrood constituency, covering the Shetland Islands council area. For Westminster elections, these council areas were covered (and still are covered) by the Orkney and Shetland Westminster constituency.

In 1999, under the Scotland Act 1998,[5] the expectation was that there would be a permanent link between the boundaries of Holyrood constituencies and those of Westminster constituencies. This link was broken, however, by the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004,[6] which enabled the creation of a new set of Westminster constituencies without change to Holyrood constituencies. The new Westminster boundaries became effective for the United Kingdom general election, 2005.

Welsh Assembly constituencies

There are 40 Welsh Assembly constituencies covering Wales, and each elects one Assembly Member (AM) by the first past the post system of election. Also, the constituencies are grouped into five electoral regions, and each of these regions elects four additional members, to produce a form or degree of mixed member proportional representation.

The Assembly constituencies have, normally, the names and boundaries of House of Commons constituencies but, as of this year, 2007, we are into a period when they are different. This is because a new set of constituencies[7] was used in the Welsh Assembly election, 2007 but their boundaries will not become effective for House of Commons elections until the 2010 general election.

The current set of Assembly constituencies is the second to be created. The first was created for the first general election of the Assembly, in 1999.

European Parliament constituencies

There are twelve European Parliament constituencies covering the United Kingdom. All except one are entirely within the UK. The exception is the South West England constituency, which includes Gibraltar.[8] Each constituency elects a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

The current set of UK European Parliament constituencies was first used in the 1999 European Parliament election.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1983", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 1983 (2): 76(2)(a), 1983-02-08, http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/documents/1983/2/ukpga/c2, retrieved 2008-11-04  
  2. ^ Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 269 (section 3) The Representation of the People (Variation of Limits of Candidates' Election Expenses) Order 2005 (Coming into force 2005-03-04)
  3. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1983", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 1983 (2): 76(2)(aa), 1983-02-08, http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/documents/1983/2/ukpga/c2, retrieved 2008-11-04  
  4. ^ "Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2000 (41): 132(5), 2000-11-30, http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/documents/2000/41/ukpga/c41, retrieved 2008-11-04  
  5. ^ Scotland Act 1998, Office of Public Sector Information website
  6. ^ Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004, Office of Public Sector Information website
  7. ^ The Parliamentary Constituencies and Assembly Electoral Regions (Wales) Order 2006, Office of Public Sector Information website
  8. ^ Gibraltar should join South West for elections to European Parliament, Electoral Commission new release, 28 Aug 2003

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