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Caroline Lucas votes in election boundary changes which would affect Sussex seats
6:59pm Tuesday 29th 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.
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.
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.
Analysis of division lists revealed all 57 Liberal Democrat MPs voted to delay the boundary review.
They were joined by 251 Labour MPs and four rebel Conservatives: John Baron (Basildon & Billericay), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden) and Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills).
MPs from the minor parties also lined up agains the Tories.
Three Plaid Cymru MPs voted to keep the amendment: Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr), Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd), Hywel Williams (Arfon).
Six Scottish National Party MPs voted to keep the amendment: Stewart Hosie (Dundee East), Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), Angus Robertson (Moray), Mike Weir (Angus), Eilidh Whiteford (Banff & Buchan), Pete Wishart (Perth & Perthshire North).
They were joined in the lobby by Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion), Democratic Unionists Gregory Campbell (Londonderry East), Nigel Dodds (Belfast North), Rev William McCrea (Antrim South), Ian Paisley Junior (Antrim North), Jim Shannon (Strangford), David Simpson (Upper Bann) and the SDLP's Mark Durkan (Foyle), Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South) and Margaret Ritchie (Down South).
Independents Lady Sylvia Hermon (Down North) and Eric Joyce (Falkirk) and Respect's George Galloway (Bradford West) also voted to delay the review.
Mr Cameron was supported by 290 Tory MPs, the Alliance's Naomi Long and Nadine Dorries, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn after appearing on I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! last year.
Two Tory MPs and two Labour MPs acted as tellers.
Tory MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough) attacked the Lib Dems pointing out that if you make a pledge, you have to keep it.
He said: "The only honourable thing the Liberal Democrats can do tonight when they do not vote with the Conservative members, is they should resign from the Government and cross the floor of the House.
"If they have any principle, any honesty with them, that is what they have to do."
He added: "The only issue the party had to deal with, would we allow a vote on AV in return for the Liberal Democrats supporting us on boundary reviews, that was the deal breaker.
"Our party kept to that deal, they've gone back, they are a disgrace and should be over there."