In the United Kingdom (UK), each of the electoral areas or divisions called constituencies elects one or more members to a parliament or assembly.
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 Scottish burghs, except for one, was a component in a district of burghs constituency. The exception was the burgh of Edinburgh, which was also, in its own right, the Edinburgh constituency.) County constituencies are the successors to the historic parliamentary divisions of counties. Many are predominantly rural in nature, but others are mostly urban with a rural component. Sometimes a town can be covered by more than one constituency, with one a borough and another a county. Reading and Milton Keynes 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|
|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|
|£5,761 + 4.8p per elector||£5,761 + 6.5p per elector|
In the 2005 United Kingdom general election, the House of Commons had 646 constituencies covering the whole of the United Kingdom. This rose to 650 in the 2010 election. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the "first past the post" system of election.
There are fourteen London Assembly constituencies covering the Greater London area, and each constituency elects one member of the assembly by the first past the post system of election. Also, eleven additional members 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.
Each elects 6 MLAs to the 108 member NI Assembly by means of the Single Transferrable Vote system. Assembly Constituency boundaries are usually linked to their House of Commons equivalents (which also are 18 in number, although they only elect 1 MP to serve).
The constituencies below are not used for the election of members to the 26 district councils.
Scottish Parliament constituencies are sometimes called Holyrood constituencies, to distinguish them from Westminster (House of Commons) constituencies. The Scottish Parliament Building is in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh, while the main meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Palace of Westminster, in the City of Westminster.
There are 73 Holyrood constituencies covering Scotland, and each elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) 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 members, 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 area, and the Shetland Holyrood constituency, covering the Shetland Islands council area. For Westminster elections, these council areas were covered (and still are covered) by the Orkney and Shetland Westminster constituency.
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 (Constituencies) 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.
There are 40 Welsh Assembly constituencies covering Wales, and each elects one Assembly Member (AM) 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 members, to produce a form or degree of mixed member proportional representation.
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.
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 Gibraltar. Each constituency elects a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) 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.