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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 Kingdommarker 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 Parliamentmarker. (See European Parliament constituencies.)

In local government elections, electoral areas are called ward or electoral division.

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 Edinburghmarker, 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. Readingmarker and Milton Keynesmarker 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 £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.

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 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 Kingdommarker, the other being the House of Lordsmarker.

See also

London Assembly constituencies

There are fourteen London Assembly constituencies covering the Greater Londonmarker area, and each constituency elects one member of the assembly by the first past the post system of election. Also, eleven additional member 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 Buildingmarker is in the Holyrood area of Edinburghmarker, while the main meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Palace of Westminstermarker, in the City of Westminstermarker.

There are 73 Holyrood constituencies covering Scotlandmarker, and each elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament 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 member, 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 areamarker, and the Shetland Holyrood constituency, covering the Shetland Islands council areamarker. For Westminster elections, these council areas were covered (and still are covered) by the Orkney and Shetland Westminster constituencymarker.

In 1999, under the Scotland Act 1998, 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 Act 2004, 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 Walesmarker, and each elects one Assembly Member 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 member, 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 was used in the Welsh Assembly election, 2007 but their boundaries will not become effective for House of Commons elections until the next United Kingdom 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 Gibraltarmarker. Each constituency elects a number of Members of the European Parliament 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

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