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Revolting? MPs are...

Mark D'Arcy | 18:06 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Forget the Expenses Parliament. The current Parliament should go down in history as the Revolting Parliament. The authoritative website reveals that the House of Commons elected in 2005 is set fair to go down in history as the most rebellious ever - even eclipsing the 2001-2005 Parliament, when there was a rebellion by government MPs in 20.8% of divisions.

Up to now there has been a rebellion in 27% of divisions, although the figure may come down a bit, because typically, rebellion simmers down a bit in the final months of a parliament.

Just to keep things in perspective: 42 of the 74 revolts in the last year involved fewer than 10 Labour MPs. The two largest revolts both involved 30 Labour MPs defying the whips. One came on 17 March this year, on an amendment by Labour's Lynne Jones, proposing the abolition of the lower rate of Jobseekers' Allowance for 18 to 25-year-olds. The second was on Andrew Dismore's amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, last week, deleting the proposal to allow secret inquiries to replace Coroners' inquests. That rebellion proved a narrow squeak for the government, reducing its majority to just eight.


Then there were the two successful rebellions - on the Liberal Democrat motion calling for improved rights to live in Britain for former Gurkha soldiers and on a clause in the Parliamentary Standards Bill which would have permitted Parliamentary debates to be used as evidence in court.

And don't forget the changes in government policy which don't show up in the figures, because they were prompted by fear of defeat - most spectacularly over the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail, where ministers took a bill through the Lords, but didn't bring it before the Commons after 146 MPs signed a motion against in favour of continued public ownership.


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