4th boundary review (1997)

The fourth periodic boundary review took place between 1991 and 1995 across the United Kingdom and was implemented at the 1997 election. Under the previous laws the review would have been due to report in 1997, fifteen years after the previous review, and too late for the expected date of the next general election in 1996 or 1997. Upon their return to office in 1992 the Conservative government amended the timetable in the Boundary Commissions Act 1992, reducing the gap between reviews to 12 years and bringing forward the deadline for the fifth review to 1994. In the event the review missed its deadline, reporting at the beginning of 1995.


As with most boundary reviews, the overall effect was to favour the Conservative party, but the Labour party produced a much more organised response to the review and it was perceived as being far more favourable to the Labour party than it might otherwise have been. The fourth review increased the number of members of the Commons from 651 to 659, meaning that a party would require 330 MPs for an overall majority.

The boundary changes resulted in the creation of twenty-five new seats (19 Conservative seats, 5 Labour and 1 DUP) and the abolition of seventeen seats (7 Labour, 9 Conservative and 1 Liberal Democrat). Twenty-one seats would notionally have been won by different parties under the new boundaries. The net effect of the changes was to increase the number of Conservative seats by 7, increase the number of Labour seats by 2, decrease the number of Liberal Democrat seats by 2 and increase the number of DUP seats by 1.

Summary of effects
New seats

Aberdeen Central - Labour majority
Arundel and South Downs - Conservative majority
Bedford - Conservative majority
Brigg and Goole - Conservative majority
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire - Labour majority
Charnwood - Conservative majority
Chatham and Aylesford - Conservative majority
Colchester - Conservative majority
Hitchin and Harpenden - Conservative majority
Mid Dorset and North Poole - Conservative majority
New Forest East - Conservative majority
North East Hampshire - Conservative majority
North Swindon - Labour majority
North West Cambridgeshire - Conservative majority
Redditch - Conservative majority
South Holland and the Deepings - Conservative majority
Stone - Conservative majority
Telford - Labour majority
Tewkesbury - Conservative majority
Vale of Clwyd - Conservative majority
Vale of York - Conservative majority
Weaver Vale - Labour majority
West Suffolk - Conservative majority
West Tyrone - DUP majority
Windsor - Conservative majority

Abolished seats

Birmingham, Small Heath - Roger Godsiff (Labour)
Coventry South West - John Butcher (Conservative)
Croydon North East - David Congdon (Conservative)
Davyhulme - Winston Churchill (Conservative)
Glasgow Central - Mike Watson (Labour)
Hammersmith - Clive Soley (Labour)
Hendon South - John Marshall (Conservative)
Kensington - Dudley Fishburn (Conservative)
Kingston-upon-Thames - Norman Lamont (Conservative)
Liverpool, Mossley Hill - David Alton (Liberal Democrat)
Newham South - Nigel Spearing (Labour)
Norwood - John Fraser (Labour)
Oldham Central and Royton - Bryan Davies (Labour)
Ravensbourne - Sir John Hunt (Conservative)
Wanstead and Woodford- James Arbuthnot (Conservative)
Woolwich - John Austin-Walker (Labour)
Wyre - Keith Mans (Conservative)

Seats changing hands

12 Conservative seats notionally gained by Labour:
Bolton North East
Bristol North West
Dudley South (was Dudley West)
Erith and Thamesmead (was Erith and Crayford)
Forest of Dean (was West Gloucestershire)
Regent's Park and Kensington North (was Westminster North)
Southampton Test
Staffordshire Moorlands

8 Labour seats notionally gained by the Conservatives:
Coventry South (was Coventry South East)
Croydon North (was Croydon North West)
Halesowen and Rowley Regis (was Warley West)
Ilford South
Preseli Pembrokeshire (was Pembroke)
The Wrekin
Warrington South

1 Liberal Democrat seat notionally gained by the Conservatives:

Of the seventeen MPs whose seats were abolished in the fourth review, six were selected in a neighbouring constituency (the three Labour ones won their new seats, the three Conservatives lost them). Two, Norman Lamont and James Arbuthnot, were selected for seats elsewhere in the country - Arbuthnot successfully held his new seat, Lamont famously lost his. Six retired or stood down, including David Alton who had already announced his intention not to stand for the Liberal Democrats again over their policy on abortion. Three were unsuccessful in seeking selection elsewhere - Winston Churchill left politics, Bryan Davies and Mike Watson both received peerages, with Watson later serving in the Scottish Parliament.

Full notional results for the 1992 election are included in Pippa Norris's database here.