House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Act (Northern Ireland) 1929

The House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Act (Northern Ireland) 1929 was an Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland at Stormont which changed the usual voting system used for the House of Commons of Northern Ireland from single transferable vote (STV) to first past the post (FPTP).[n 1] As a consequence, the act also subdivided nine of the ten multiple-seat constituencies established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920 into 48 single-seat constituencies. The only exception was the Queen's University constituency, which remained STV until its 1969 abolition.[n 2] The act was passed in time for the 1929 Stormont election.

The 1929 act has been interpreted by Irish nationalists, at the time and in later years, as an attempt by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) to reduce nationalist representation.[2] Dennis Pringle argues that, although gerrymandering and malapportionment at local government level was intended to strengthen Ulster unionist candidates at the expense of nationalism,[3] this was not the case at Stormont, where the unionist majority was secure; instead, the Craigavon ministry's concern was to defend the middle-class UUP against working-class independent unionists and the Northern Ireland Labour Party.[2] These lost more seats than the nationalists at the 1929 election, because their support was more evenly spread than the nationalist and unionist parties.[4]


  1. ^ Stormont by-elections had always used FPTP rather than STV or its single-winner analogue, the alternative vote.[1]
  2. ^ Similarly, university constituencies in the Westminster House of Commons used STV until their 1950 abolition.


  • Stormont Debates: Commons vol.10
  • Quekett, Arthur S., ed. (1933). "House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Act (Northern Ireland) 1929". The Constitution Of Northern Ireland. Vol. Part II: The Government of Ireland Act, 1920 and Subsequent Enactments. Belfast: His Majesty's Stationery Office for the Government of Northern Ireland. pp. 345–377. Retrieved 2 October 2020.


  1. ^ Government of Ireland Act 1920 sec.14(3) "The members shall be elected by the same electors and in the same manner as members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, except that at any contested election of the full number of members the election shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, each elector having one transferable vote" [emphasis added].
  2. ^ a b Pringle 1980 p.188
  3. ^ Whyte, J.H. (1983). "How much discrimination was there under the unionist regime, 1921–68?". In Gallagher, Tom; O'Connell, James (eds.). Contemporary Irish Studies. Manchester, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press.
  4. ^ Pringle 1980 p.198