Boundary Review Committee
In accordance with a Tynwald resolution in July 2010, a Boundary Review Committee has been established under Section 11 (5) of the Representation of the People Act 1995.
Population changes over the years have contributed to a change in the number of voters in electoral constituencies in the Isle of Man. Consequently, the Committee is reviewing the number and boundaries of the constituencies for elections to the House of Keys.
The Governor in Council approved the appointment to the Boundary Review Committee 2011 of:
- Sally Bolton, Chairman
- Terry Groves
- Ashton Lewis
- Bob Riding
The Committee invited representations from members of the public, in particular comments or views on the following:
- Existing boundaries
- Possible changes to existing boundaries
- Size of constituencies
- Number of members per constituency
- Number of voters per elected member
- Whether population should be the sole guide to constituency size
- Any other issues relevant to the Terms of Reference of the Tynwald Resolution as stated in the opening paragraph
Second Interim Report
The Boundary Review Committee presented a Second Interim Report to the October 2012 sitting of Tynwald. The following recommendations were agreed:
- Tynwald accepts that the twenty four seats of the House of Keys be divided into twelve constituencies of two members each; and
- Tynwald directs the Boundary Review Committee to complete its Report by defining and delineating the boundaries of such constituencies in accordance with paragraph (a) above and to report back no later than the June 2013 sitting of Tynwald
The Second Interim Report can be viewed here or by clicking on the pdf document below.
Statistics from the 2011 House of Keys election
In the 2011 House of Keys general election 23% of the electorate, the 14,000 who live in the constituencies of Rushen and Onchan, had three votes each. But 22,000 (37%) had only one vote each, in Ayre, Castletown, Garff, Glenfaba, Michael, Peel, Malew and Santon, and Middle.
Around 23,000 or 40% had two votes each, in the four Douglas constituencies and Ramsey. The Island’s mixture of three, two and one-seat constituencies means that an individual’s share of political influence, as a voter and a constituent, varies greatly depending on where they live.
An elector in Onchan has three votes and is represented by three of the 24 Members of the House of Keys, while an elector in neighbouring Garff has one vote and one MHK. A resident of Rushen has three times the voting power of a person living in the adjacent constituency of Castletown.
The system has long attracted criticism that it breaches the fundamental democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote’.
Previous reviews, including the Butler Commission of 1980, have recommended that in the interests of political equality the deviation from the average in terms of numbers of voters per MHK should be no more than 15%.
Based on 2010/11 figures the average number of voters per House of Keys seat is 2,548. However, in Middle there are 3,794 voters per seat – 48.9% more than the average. In Peel the number of voters per seat is 40.1% higher than the average, and in Garff it is 30.7% above the average.
On the other side of the equation the constituency with the fewest voters per MHK is Glenfaba, with 1,880 voters per seat – half the number of Middle and 26.2% below the average. Douglas East is 23.6% below the average and Douglas West is 21.4% below.
The issues of what it called ‘Democratic Values’ were raised as concerns by the Island’s last Boundary Review Committee which produced an interim report in January 2006. That report stated:
‘The Committee considers that it is desirable, wherever possible, for constituencies to have broadly the same number of voters per member, in the interests of democracy. Some variation is inevitable, and may be desirable in rural constituencies where voter density is less than in urban areas leading to greater distances to be covered by candidates seeking to represent such areas. In this regard variations of up to 15% may be regarded as tolerable. However as great, if not greater importance in maintaining the principle of one man, one vote is the concept of equality of representation. The current amalgam of one, two and three seat constituencies which means that a voter in one constituency is able to cast three votes, whereas a voter in the next constituency is only able to cast one, can be considered a far greater inequality than the current variation in numbers of voters per constituency.’
The current Boundary Review Committee was appointed by the Council of Ministers in December 2010 in line with a Tynwald resolution of July that year to ‘review the number and boundaries of the constituencies for elections to the House of Keys.’