Major changes in shake-up of Welsh MPs' seats

The Commission has published its revised proposals Credit: Boundary Commission for Wales

Cutting the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30 was always going to be a brutal business and the the first proposals for new constituencies, published in January, produced several yelps of pain.

However, the Boundary Commission for Wales can take what it dishes out and has today published revised proposals that take on board many of the objections to its initial ideas.

But it is pressing on, as by law it must, despite the likelihood that its final report will be rejected at Westminster.

The Commission's work, which has cost £675,000 so far, is still much more than an academic exercise. The Conservatives might have lost the Liberal Democrats' support for cutting the number of MPs but are actively looking for other allies to push through the proposals. Even if they are defeated, there could be a fresh vote after the next election.

Twenty-one of the 30 constituencies proposed in January have been changed, as well as a major rethink of the proposed names.

But one of the most controversial proposals has survived. Glyndwr and North Powys is now called Denbigh and North Montgomeryshire but remains a seat of two halves, linked only by minor mountain roads. As the rules on limiting variations in the number of voters in each seat are much tighter than they used to be, the Commission could do no more than make some relatively minor changes in the Ruabon and Welshpool areas.

The rest of Montgomeryshire is now all in the same seat and Brecon and Radnor, as the idea of including the Machynlleth area in the proposed Gwynedd constituency has been dropped. There's been some change to the area around Bangor that will be added to Ynys Mon to create a big enough electorate.

In the south, Llanelli is still expanded across the river Lougher but now includes the town of Lougher as well. The Cynon Valley constituency is still broken up but now is now only divided in two, not three ways as before. Most of it goes into a new Rhondda and Aberdare constituency. Another proposed seat divided by a mountain, Caerphilly and Cardiff North has been dropped.

In fact, the biggest change since the original proposals is in the Cardiff, Newport and Caerphilly areas. Caerphilly is enlarged to include much of Islwyn, Cardiff South and Penarth, Cardiff West and Cardiff Central now all survive with limited boundary changes. Cardiff North and South West Gwent includes Risca and the western edge of Newport and clearly owes its proposed creation primarily to the need to get the number of voters right.

The name at least can still be improved. The Commission will listen to counter-proposals -on boundaries as well as names- until 18 December. After that it will finalise the proposals that will go before Parliament for what could yet be a very close vote at Westminster.