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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Lib Dem revolt scuppers Cumbria boundary reform

By Gareth JonesPLANS which would have transformed the electoral map of Cumbria have been delayed until at least 2018.

The government’s bid to reduce the number of MPs across the country from 650 to 600 ahead of the next general election failed in parliament yesterday.

The Liberal Democrats turned on their coalition colleagues as MPs voted by 334 to 292 – a majority of 42 – to delay the review of the boundaries until 2018.

The plans could see Millom moved into the Barrow and Furness constituency, with only one MP covering all of west Cumbria.

Opposition to the plans by the Lib Dems has been staunch after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg withdrew his party’s support for David Cameron’s plan in retaliation for the failure to make progress on House of Lords reform.

In an unprecedented move reflecting the split between coalition parties on the issue, the prime minister agreed to suspend the requirement for government ministers to exercise collective responsibility for the vote on the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill.

Mr Cameron had hoped the new constituencies would be in place for the next election, which could have resulted in up to an extra 20 seats for the Conservative Party.

But MPs accepted an amendment made by peers to the Bill which delays the review until after the next general election.

Draft proposals for Cumbria, which would have seen Windermere and Whitehaven in the same constituency, were condemned in 2011 by all the main political parties.

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