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Lib Dems kill off 'Devonwall' plan with Lords rebellion

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 15, 2013

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Plans to create an MP constituency straddling the Devon and Cornwall border were put on ice after peers last night voted to delay a boundary review until 2018.

A Lords amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, calling for the review of parliamentary seats to be postponed until well after the next election, was won by 300 votes to 231 – a majority of 69.

Government plans to slash the number of MPs from 650 to 600 would have created a controversial "Devonwall" constituency, breaching the historic Tamar boundary.

Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg's decision to order his party to oppose the changes follows the failure of his Lords reform legislation and severely hampers the chances of the Tories winning a majority at the next General Election.

It meant, in any case, the legislation was highly unlikely to be passed without Lib Dem MPs getting behind it.

Before the vote, Lord Robin Teverson, Lib Dem peer and Cornwall councillor, who previously tabled a failed amendment to protect Cornwall's boundary, said he backed the new clause.

He said: "My amendment to the original bill to prevent a joint Cornwall and Devon constituency failed by a small margin of some 29 votes.

"We now have our second chance and I will be voting again in the Lords on Monday to make sure that this process stops in its tracks.

"Cornwall will keep its representation at Westminster with six constituencies, all within our county boundaries."

During ill-tempered exchanges, Lord Hill, the Tory Lords Leader, urged peers to drop the amendment – warning it is "unwise" to break with precedent and ignore a ruling by the clerks of the House that the amendment was "inadmissible" because it was not relevant to the Bill. But peers behind the motion ignored the advice, claiming postponing the review of the parliamentary constituency boundaries for "one electoral cycle" would allow time for the new system of individual voter registration, brought in under the Bill, to bed down and test how far the register was accurate. The vote was set to be the first time since the coalition was formed that Lib Dem ministers voted against the Government in either House.

Senior Liberal Democrat Lord Rennard, a co-sponsor of the amendment, said: "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."

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  • josdave  |  January 16 2013, 8:40AM

    They're behaving like a bunch of kids. Just because they didn't get what they wanted over the House of Lords they throw a tantrum. Surely anything that reduces the number of MPs has got to be a good thing and it's only an electoral boundary not a county boundary so why all the fuss? Parts of North Cornwall have Exeter post codes and a big chunk of the county including St Austell have Plymouth post codes and I've not heard of any "uprising" over that. Grow up MPs.

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  • Tony_Olsson  |  January 15 2013, 1:26PM

    Devonwall - surely that's what I've been hitting my head against for so many years? Sadly the abandonment of Devonwall won't have any positive effect on the governance of North Devon at local or national level

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  • AnGof2012  |  January 15 2013, 10:49AM

    I read that the despicable ones even proposed an alliance with the SNP to get this legislation through. The SNP declined. How low could the despicable ones have stooped. Good luck to Scotland in the Freedom Referendum next year!

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  • AnGof2012  |  January 15 2013, 10:47AM

    The Tories will be choking over their pink gins and will also be consigned to the dustbin of history along with their idiotic plans. Well done those who have quietly worked behind the scenes to keep our ancient border with Engerland intact. Yes Cameron, it's a wide river and might as well be the Amazon! Cornwall, next to Engerland just like Wales. Cornish not Engerlish.

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  • nick113  |  January 15 2013, 9:54AM

    The LibDems have reneged on a commitment they made when the coalition was formed. Forget the politics, the point of the reform was to have roughly equal numbers of voters in each constituency. That is fundamentally the right thing to do, and no-one with any self-respect should oppose it. Shame on the LibDems.

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  • Big_Ger  |  January 15 2013, 9:29AM

    The Lib Dems have delayed this change as they stood to lose a number of their MPs if it went through. They still will lose them though.

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  • youngcornwall  |  January 15 2013, 9:05AM

    And everyone else faces a bleak future with cut backs, apart from our MPs so it seems.

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