Redistribution of Seats Act 1885

Redistribution Of Seats Act 1885

Redistribution of Seats Act 1885

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The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict., c. 23) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was a piece of electoral reform legislation that redistributed the seats in the House of Commons, introducing the concept of equally populated constituencies, in an attempt to equalize representation across the UK. It was associated with, but not part of, the Reform Act 1884.

The Act made the following changes:
  • Larger towns and the county constituencies were divided into single member constituencies;
  • Towns with populations between 50,000 and 165,000 were given two seats;
  • Thirty-six towns with populations between 15,000 and 50,000 lost one of their MPs and became single member constituencies;
  • Seventy-nine town constituencies with populations smaller than 15,000 were merged into other constituencies

As support of the Irish members was needed by both major parties, the representation of Ireland in Parliament was not reduced, even though it had suffered a relative loss of population compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, due to emigration which had continue since the famine.

The changes took effect at the 1885 general election.


The first major reform of parliamentary seats took place under the Reform Act 1832. The next redistribution of parliamentary seats occurred in three parliamentary acts in 1867/68. The Reform Act 1867 applied to English and Welsh constituencies. This was followed by Representation of the People Act 1868 which...
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