The Boundary Committee for England was a statutory committee of the Electoral Commission, an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. The Committee’s aim was to conduct thorough, consultative and robust reviews of local government areas in England, and for its recommendations to be evidence-based, accurate and accepted. The Boundary Committee was abolished in 2010, with its functions assumed by a new Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
The Committee’s responsibilities related solely to local government boundaries: responsibility for parliamentary boundaries lies with the Boundary Commission for England, a non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice.
On 1 April 2002 responsibility for electoral reviews in England transferred to the Electoral Commission. On the same day the Boundary Committee for England became a statutory committee of the Commission. The Committee undertakes electoral reviews and makes recommendations to the Commission as to whether electoral changes should be made in respect of the area under review. The Commission then decides whether to implement the Committee’s recommendations. The decision of the Commission is taken at a Commission meeting comprising the Electoral Commissioners as members.
The Boundary Committee for England replaced the Local Government Commission for England, which was the body responsible for reviewing the structure of local government in England from 1992 to 2002. The equivalent bodies operating in other parts of the United Kingdom are the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales, the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland and the Local Government Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland.
The protocol on the relationship between the Boundary Committee for England and the Electoral Commission sets out the roles and responsibilities of each body in terms of securing fair boundary arrangements for local elections in England.
The Boundary Committee for England is responsible for three types of review: electoral reviews; administrative boundary reviews; and structural reviews.
An electoral review considers whether the boundaries of wards or divisions within a local authority need to be altered to take account of changes in electorate. The Electoral Commission directs the Committee to undertake electoral reviews and is also responsible for implementing them. The Committee also looks at the number of councillors, the number of wards or divisions and whether the wards or divisions should be represented by a single councillor, or jointly by two or three councillors.
At the request of the Department for Communities and Local Government or of a local authority, or at the Boundary Committee for England’s instigation, the Committee can undertake administrative boundary reviews, which review the external boundaries of a local authority.
A structural review is used to establish whether one or more single, all-purpose councils, known as unitary authorities, should be established in an area instead of the district and county councils of the existing two-tier system.
Chair and Committee MembersMax Caller CBE was appointed Chair of the Boundary Committee for England in 2007. He also serves as an Electoral Commissioner.
Current Boundary Committee members:
Joan Jones CBE
Professor Colin Mellors
Dr Peter Knight CBE DL
The Director of the Boundary Committee for England is Archie Gall
The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, which received Royal Assent on 12 November 2009, provided for the establishment of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), and for the transfer to it of all the boundary-related functions of the Electoral Commission and the Boundary Committee for England. This reflects the recommendations of the Committee on Standards on Public Life (CSPL), which were supported by the Electoral Commission and the Boundary Committee. This transfer took place in April 2010.