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Boundary changes plan defeated in Commons vote
9:10am Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
David Cameron's hopes of fighting the 2015 general election on redrawn constituency boundaries were dealt a death blow in the Commons after the Liberal Democrats turned on their coalition colleagues.
The proposed changes would have redrawn Wirral's political landscape.
The switch would have seen Wallasey and Birkenhead constituencies surviving, but Wirral West and Wirral South would disappear to be renamed as a merger called Hoylake and Neston.
Wirral would only have two MPs who solely represent the peninsula.
Perhaps the most contentious issue would be a new "Mersey Banks" area which would merge parts of Bromborough and Eastham with Cheshire towns of Frodsham and Helsby among others.
But last night MPs voted by 334 to 292, majority 42, to delay the review of the boundaries until 2018 after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg withdrew his party's support for Mr Cameron's plan in retaliation for the failure to make progress on House of Lords reform.
Wirral South Labour MP Alison McGovern said Lib Dems had been “sensible” to go against the changes.
She said: “As I have said before the Liberal Democrats did the sensible thing in accepting that the constraints on the boundary changes weren’t right.
“The Boundary Commission were given rules that meant there would be crazy results of New Ferry being in the same constituency as Runcorn and Delamere Forest. I am in favour of making sure that we have a balance between constituencies and I am sure the matter will come up again in the future.
“I know residents in Bromborough and Bebington, especially, will be very pleased about the changes not going ahead as they expressed their worries to me.”
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.
The Prime Minister 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 his Conservative Party.
But MPs accepted an amendment made by peers to the Bill which delays the review until after the next general election.
The plan would have seen the number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600, with constituencies of roughly equal numbers of voters.
But the amendment tabled in the Lords by a cross-party alliance led by Labour's Lord Hart of Chilton and Lib Dem Lord Rennard and now agreed by MPs has left the proposal in tatters.
Commons Leader Andrew Lansley pleaded with MPs to reject the change, arguing that it breached parliamentary conventions.
He said the Hart/Rennard amendment was "not only an abuse of parliamentary process, it is a democratic travesty".
"The unelected House is seeking to frustrate the previously expressed will of this Parliament, not a previous parliament, to deny fairness and equality in the franchise and fundamentally to manipulate the basis on which this House is to be elected," Mr Lansley said.