David Cameron to press ahead with boundary changes plans

 
David Cameron speaking to teenagers taking part in an activity camp in mid-Wales Mr Cameron has said the government must focus on the economy

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David Cameron has said he will press ahead with proposed changes to the House of Commons despite the Lib Dems saying they will vote against them.

The prime minister said plans to redraw constituency boundaries would be "put forward" to MPs and urged all parties to back the "very sensible" proposals.

Senior Lib Dems have said they will oppose them after Tory MPs blocked proposals to reform the House of Lords.

They say this meant the Tories "reneged" on the coalition agreement.

Changes to the Lords - the plan was to make 80% of peers elected and to halve the number of members to 450 - were a long-held goal of the Lib Dems.

But more than 90 Conservatives defied the government in a vote on the issue in July and Mr Clegg pulled the plug on the plans on Monday.

'Frustrating'

Speaking on a visit to a children's activity centre in Wales, Mr Cameron said it was "frustrating" that the Lords plans had been dropped in the face of opposition "from Labour and others" in Parliament.

Start Quote

All of these claims about the coalition being on its last legs are simply not true”

End Quote Jeremy Browne Foreign Office minister

But he said he could not allow "month after month of wrangling" over the plans and there would now be extra "space" to concentrate on the government's priority of the economy

The climbdown over Lords reform has thrown into doubt its plans to reduce the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 and redraw constituency boundaries to make them roughly the same size.

Mr Cameron, whose party are seen as most likely to benefit from the changes to the Commons, said that "obviously we want the boundary vote to go ahead".

"I am going to say to every MP 'look the House of Commons ought to be smaller, less expensive and we ought to have seats which are exactly the same size'," he said.

"I think everyone should come forward and vote for that proposal because it is a very sensible proposal and it will be put forward."

When he appeared before a committee of MPs earlier this year, Mr Clegg said there was no link between Lords reform and the boundary changes.

But Lib Dem Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said on Tuesday that they were "part of the same constitutional package".

He told Radio 4's Today programme he would oppose boundary changes in a vote expected to take place next year but insisted the dispute would not wreck the coalition.

"Let's get on with the huge areas where we do agree and where we think we can work constructively in the national interest," he said.

"All of these claims about the coalition being on its last legs are simply not true. We can get on with that huge body of work instead."

'Electoral disadvantage'

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said the Lib Dems were facing up to the prospect of not being able to deliver any constitutional change of any significance while in government.

Start Quote

For the time being, at least, life in the Lords will carry on as normal ”

End Quote Sean Curran BBC Parliamentary Correspondent

The Conservatives, meanwhile, may have to live with the current parliamentary boundaries which meant it took many more thousands of voters to elect a Conservative MP than a Labour MP.

Tim Montgomerie, editor of the Conservativehome website for party activists, suggested losing the boundary changes would be a "huge blow" to the Conservatives' chances in the next election.

He told the BBC News Channel: "If you look at the electoral system, Labour can get a parliamentary majority with just a 3% lead in the opinion polls.

"The Conservatives need an 11% lead to get the same result. And one of the reasons for that is that Labour seats tend to be smaller in size than Conservative seats.

"Boundary reforms would not have reduced all of the disadvantage in the electoral system but would have given the Conservatives about 20 more MPs."

Labour has said the boundary changes were "arbitrary" and designed to benefit the Conservatives rather than improve the political system or save money. The party says Mr Clegg did not oppose them when they were agreed in principle by Parliament last year.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 287.

    Politics just suddently became interesting again.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 286.

    @Dave

    What you are really calling for is not called a democracy - its called a regime. I am afraid that the Tories are just going to have to compete for power with Labour and other parties....its worked for a while now, no sense in going back to days when we were obliged to vote for the landowners!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 285.

    Another push by our one sided coalition government toward the egotistical United State of Cameron

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 284.

    The Lib / Dems never were an alternative to Labour or the Conservatives, they are useless and always have been. Their policies are pie in the sky nonsense and change as quickly as their principles. Either they decide whether they are Labour or Tory, or they will return to the backwoods where Steel and Owen left them. As for Hughes, he is positioning himself behind Clegg , with his dagger ready.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 283.

    If the Tories didn't cheat their way to govern they would cease to exist. Not only do they have the support of the media barons who love their tax avoidance schemes, they make the rules up as they go along.

    Imagine playing monopoly with a Tory? The brainwashed can't even see it, it's terrible to watch, it's like a form of mental illness where the kidnapped grows to like the kidnapper.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 282.

    Whatever happened to the Boundary Commision?

  • rate this
    +67

    Comment number 281.

    Major constitutional change should go to the public in a referendum. Multiple questions - One for elected House of Lords, one for reduced number of MPs, one for equal sized constituencies. They aren't a 'package' - they are all different proposals. Personally I am in favour of reduced number of MPs and equal sized constituencies, but opposed to Lords reform in this form.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 280.

    Boundary changes (aka gerrymandering) just goes to show how ridiculous FPTP is as a democractic model where some votes are more equal than others.
    As someone who read History at university I know the struggle for universal suffrage in this country, but I find myself less and less inclined to give the current system even a semblance of acceptance by casting my vote. Its not democracy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 279.

    This is further evidence that this Coalition is not working in spite of generous public support from the outset. Reform of the House of Lords has been promised by all the main parties but never seems to get off the starting blocks, even in Olympics year! The Lib-Dems should not lose sleep over abandoning boundary reforms - they once strongly favoured proportional representation but settled for AV.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 278.

    Hey, if we are living in a democracy, then surely the LibDems can vote against things too?

    Classic game theory. That's all. You vote against constitutional reform (after all, the Tory right is the Tory party), we vote against constitutional reform. Then we get on with fixing the economy together.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 277.

    Time for the PR debate again .......??

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 276.

    It might be a novel idea Dave, but rather than tinkering around with trivia, how about reforming our national boundary?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 275.

    "It's exactly this type of "tit for tat" politics that make increasing numbers of the general public despise politicians"

    Huh? So your concept of a coalition government is two parties that join together to implement conservative party policy? I think you will find far more people will appreciate the Lib Dems standing up to Tory bullying in the alliance, just a shame it has taken so long.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 274.

    236.
    Cyber Tantric

    Are you even aware of how the very complex process of Parliamentary boundary views work?

    I'm a Conservative voter and I've had my doubts about the current boundary review from the start. The old system wasn't perfect, but it was fair. No party should rig the boundaries for party political reasons, and that's what the Lib Dems are now effectively doing.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 273.

    Pensions: Maxwell brought and closed companies, took the pension surplus. Tories said OK. max surplus 5%. 1980/90's companies took pension contribution holidays. (will make it up if the fund goes negative). Brown removes 10% dividend tax. Company pension funds go negative. Companies close pensions.. Tories don't replace 10% dividend tax.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 272.

    Tit for tat seems selfish by lib dems. Having said that The house of lords needs to be cut drastically, its an expensive non essential. Cameron should bring his party to order non mamby pamby them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 271.

    Don't bash the Lib Dems. Remember it's the Tories who have reneged on their manifesto AND coalition agreements. If the Boundary Cahnge bill is so good then Labour would be backing it anyway so what's the problem?

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 270.

    All the Tories care about is getting a majority at the next election. So they are changing the electoral boundaries, to ensure they win more seats and get closer to a majority...Simples.

    Anyone who says otherwisse is lying.

    Time to expose the Tory lies.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 269.

    It is not surprising Cameron is pressing ahead with his assault on democracy. With a rising population in the UK he wants to reduce our democratic representation by reducing the number of MPs. With no counter balancing reform of the Lord's to hold the Executive to account & with the Govt payroll staying as large as ever this is surely a retrograde step for any of us who care for democracy.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 268.

    Im no fan of the tories but its time the lib dems were put in their place, the tail wagging the dog is wearing thin. The lib dems are in a mess and the irony is that being in government could be the worst thing that has happened to them. I think they will be near enough wiped out at the next election.

 

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