Isle Of Wight To Have Two MPs?

Ministers are to protect the Isle of Wight from changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries which threatened to force some islanders to share an MP with voters in Hampshire.

Under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, the size of the House of Commons is being reduced from 650 to 600 MPs, and seats will be reshaped so that almost all have roughly the same number of voters.

The Government's original plans would have meant splitting the Isle of Wight in two and combining one part with areas of the mainland on the other side of the Solent.

The proposal provoked opposition in the Lords, which passed an amendment last month to protect the island seat - Britain's largest constituency with 110,000 voters.

Ministers initially vowed to overturn the defeat, but the Government today announced a concession which will split the island into two smaller constituencies.

Under the provisions in the Bill, all constituencies will be required to have within 5% of 76,000 voters. The Isle of Wight joins two Scottish seats - the Western Isles and Orkney & Shetland - in being granted an exemption because of their island status.

Opponents of the scheme have complained that the rigid mathematical formula will create seats which ignore historical loyalties and cross county boundaries.