Bletchley MP Iain Stewart voted for constituency boundary changes

Iain Stewart could have seen half his constituency shift to Buckingham if boundary change plans had been passed
Iain Stewart could have seen half his constituency shift to Buckingham if boundary change plans had been passed

THE MP for Bletchley voted for plans that could have seen half the town fall under the constituency of Buckingham.

Iain Stewart, who represents Milton Keynes South, voted in favour of Government proposals to redraw parliamentary constituencies boundaries – but later told the Citizen he did not want to see the centre of Bletchley and sites such as Bletchley Park and stadium:mk moved out of MK’s political sphere.

The plans were defeated in the House of Commons on Tuesday after Liberal Democrat politicians opposed their Conservative coalition partners.

MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by peers, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest.

In 2011, Parliament had agreed in principle to reduce the number of MPs and redraw the electoral map to make constituencies roughly the same size in terms of voters.

The number of MPs sitting in Parliament would have been reduced from 650 to 600 as a result.

But arguments prompted by last year’s Tory decision to drop plans for elections to the House of Lords have resulted in the Lib Dems blocking the move.

The changes could have seen Bletchley split between Milton Keynes and Buckingham.

Tuesday’s result will mean the next general election, scheduled for 2015, will be fought along the same boundaries as the 2010 campaign.

Tory Mr Stewart told the Citizen he voted for the boundary changes plans because both Milton Keynes seats are currently ‘considerably oversized’. But he added that it did not automatically follow that he supports the Boundary Commission’s specific plans – including those that would see part of Bletchley move into the Buckingham constituency.

Fellow Conservative and member for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, also voted in favour of the plans to equalise electorates.

Mr Stewart’s political opponent for the next general election, Labour’s Andrew Pakes, agreed that the constituencies are currently too large, but said a third seat should be added to represent MK.

Referring to predictions that the proposals would have resulted in an increase of around 20 seats for the Conservatives, he said: ““I am really pleased that the Government’s attempt to gerry-mander Parliamentary boundaries for their own political gain has been roundly defeated.”

He added: “This does now mean that Milton Keynes will have two of the largest constituencies in the country at the next election. We should be fighting for a third seat in Milton Keynes to get the resources we need, not splitting up the city.”

“Whatever the boundary vote Milton Keynes South was always going to be one of the most closely fought seats in the country.”

Mr Stewart said: “As a result of population growth, both Milton Keynes seats are considerably over-sized which means that the vote of a Milton Keynes elector counts for much less than elsewhere in the country. My electorate is approaching 90,000; yet other urban seats in the country have electorates of under 60,000. That’s not fair.

“The issue, however, is now closed and the current boundaries stay in place. I look forward to the opportunity of serving all my constituents up to and beyond the next election.”

But he added: “It does not, however, follow that I supported the Boundary Commission’s specific plans, which had yet to be finalised.

“Indeed, I objected strongly to their initial proposals which would have seen the centre of Bletchley, together with Bletchley Park, stadium:mk and other key local services transferred to Buckingham.”