UK & World News
Lords Vote To Delay Boundary Changes
David Cameron's attempts to cut the number of MPs at the next election are in tatters after Liberal Democrats exacted a brutal revenge for the collapse of House of Lords reform.
After an ill-tempered debate in which Tory and Lib Dem peers clashed angrily, the House of Lords voted by 300 to 231, a majority of 69, to delay boundary changes from later this year until 2018.
The crushing defeat for the Government was almost entirely due to Lib Dem peers - including several ministers - openly defying the Prime Minister and voting to sabotage the boundary changes.
A total of 72 Lib Dems voted against the Government, with none voting in favour. Six of the seven Lib Dem members of the Government frontbench in the Lords voted with Labour.
The Tories were desperately hoping to fight the next election under the new boundaries, which would have cut the number of Parliamentary constituencies from the present 650 to 600.
The Conservatives hoped the cut in constituencies could be worth another 20 seats, enough to put Mr Cameron back in 10 Downing Street without the need for a Coalition with the Lib Dems.
Senior Tories insist they will attempt to overturn the Lords defeat in the Commons, but with the Liberal Democrats now opposing boundary changes the move looks doomed as the Conservatives have so far failed to persuade the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and Northern Ireland parties to back them.
The Lords debate, on an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, saw some acrimonious exchanges between Conservative and Lib Dem peers and bitter attacks from Tories on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The showdown on boundaries in the Lords had been postponed twice by former Lords leader Lord Strathclyde, who quit a week ago claiming the Coalition had broken down in the House of Lords.
One of the movers of the amendment was former Lib Dem chief executive Lord Rennard, who said boundary changes and House of Lords reform had been a package of constitutional reform.
"Many in my party take the view that the reduction in the number of MPs proposed in the boundary review should not take place without reform that would strengthen the legitimacy of this House," he said.
But former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth launched a scathing attack on the Liberal Democrats, accusing them of "cheating" the Prime Minister and "gerrymandering for political reasons".
"What we are seeing today is that the Deputy Prime Minister is going from cross to double cross, because that is what this is - it is a double cross," Lord Forsyth said.
"At no stage was the issue of House of Lords reform in any way attached to the question we are considering today. I have to say the Prime Minister is being cheated by his Liberal Democrat colleagues."
He said Tory parliamentary private secretaries in the Commons had been sacked for voting against Lords reform and called on Lib Dem ministers to resign if they wanted to opposed the Government.
"You don't take the Queen's shilling and then go through the lobbies and vote against the Prime Minister - and that is what is going to happen tonight and it is an absolute disgrace," he said.
Another Tory, political thriller writer Lord Dobbs, also hit out at the Liberal Democrats and said it was an invention that there was a link between constituency boundaries and House of Lords reform.
"The truth is that this is solely, sadly and cynically because the Deputy Prime Minister didn't get his way on House of Lords reform," said the author of House of Cards and To Play The King.
"Now he wants to exact a little retribution. It's nothing less than a great political sulk."
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what do you think?
I agree, the number of MPs should be cut to 350.
They would want double the wages and expenses to make up the difference
What's he want to do move the goal post to stay in power?
What he wants ie each MP to represent the same number of people +or- 5% At present the numbers each MP represents vary between 41,000 and 91,000 We are all entitled to equal representation, it is called democracy
Why didn't Cameron just go the whole hog and try to abolish every seat that isn't safe Tory, or just have the constituents of his constituency Witney decide the course of the next election alone
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It will not matter anyway. Next election will see the lib dems wiped out and the Tories destroyed by ukip in the marginals allowing labour in. I predict a 90 odd seat labour majority and an end to this country. Unless Cameron acts fast on a referendum
Tim it is likely to be higher than that the current boundaries give labour an automatic 5% advantage over other parties Unless this is rectified we will not live in a true democracy
HAHAHA SOME OF THESE USLESS TOFFS LOSING THERE FREE RIDES ( NO CHANCE)
Lib Dems voting for that reform would have been like a turkey voting for Christmas. Boundary changes should be out of the hands of political interference.
The boundary change was to ensure each MP represents the same number of people +or- 5% At present the numbers each MP represents vary between 41,000 and 91,000 We are all entitled to equal representation, it is called democracy, something lib dems seem not to believe in
Michael, just a coincidence that the new boundaries would have resulted in more MPs in traditional conservative voting areas? No thought not, lets keep boundary changes out of the hands of all political parties.
Labour whilst in power were fully aware the boundaries because of shift of population gave them a 5% advantage but failed to sort the problem as it was not in their interest We condemn countries that rig the pole an rightly so. A system that knowingly allows one party an advantage is rigged
Ah I see, you agree with me then, boundary changes should be out of political hands altogether. Glad we have that sorted.
Abolish the Tory Party LIES and more Lies.
The Tory party did come to an end in 1846
pjbeckett Just shows how up to date miserable mike is
No party should be allowed to change boundaries full stop where it's done for political gain.
It is the boundary commission that recommends changes at the governments request as the populations change. This should be done automatically every 10 years with no input from MPs
Do we need a parliament ? just let the EU assembly govern, thery do anyway