Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock, has warned that the changes to constituency boundaries will disenfranchise and fracture communities. Mr Kinnock was speaking in a debate in Parliament which looked to reverse the decision to reduce the number of MPs to 600.
Pat Glass MP’s Bill, which will now get a Second Reading after MPs overwhelmingly voted in support of the Bill, seeks to amend the legislation passed in 2011 which reduces the number of MPs from 650 to 600. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act will see the number Welsh MPs cut from 40 to 29.
Speaking in the debate Aberavon’s Stephen Kinnock said, ‘Under the terms of this boundary review, Port Talbot, the town at the heart of my Aberavon constituency, would be cut in two, quite literally down the high street; and the steelworks would be cut off from the Housing Estate that was built for its workers.
‘The clear and unified voice of Port Talbot and its people is being threatened by a government determined to smash it apart.
‘Port Talbot and Aberavon have had a difficult fifty years given the challenges faced by the steel industry, but we are starting to see the benefits of investment in our area.
‘If we are to build on this and overcome the current uncertainty around the future our steel economy, we must work to both remain as one community and work to maintain our unified political representation.
‘And that is why the Boundary Commission's proposal is completely unacceptable.
‘As much as iron needs oxygen to be transformed into steel, so our area needs unity, if we are to build a future of security and opportunity.
‘This is a bare faced gerrymander on so many levels, one of which is the missing off of the 2million registered electors.
‘By running a dividing line through the heart of Port Talbot, the Boundary Commission’s proposal threatens to shatter the unified political representation that our communities so desperately need.
‘Instead of pressing forward with this act of constitutional vandalism that will disenfranchise and fracture communities; strip this House of its independent voice and compromise our ability to stand up for our constituents; let us stand up and fight for our constituents, let us fight for our communities: let us support this Bill.’
Earlier in the debate Mr Kinnock intervened to say, ‘We can see this as a mathematical exercise, but the fact of the matter is that under the terms of this boundary review a line would be cut right through the heart of Port Talbot in the centre of my constituency, smashing communities apart that have existed for many years. What we need at this time is unified political representation for our communities.’
The new boundaries, drawn up by the Boundary Commission for Wales, are currently out to consultation.
There is currently a campaign to prevent the Aberavon constituency being split with a petition that can be signed at https://www.change.org/p/boundary-commission-wales-save-aberavon-constituency