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Devonwall Dead till 2018

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7:02am 15th January 2013

Cornwall will not be forced to share an MP with Devon, until 2018 at the earliest.

It would have meant places like Camelford, Bude and Launceston being put into a new constituency with Bideford and Torrington.

Supporters say reducing the number of MPs would have meant a fairer system, since each would have had similar numbers of constituents.

Before the ill-tempered debate in the Lords, Cornish peers had pledged to block the changes which many saw as making it easier for the Conservatives to win an outright majority at the next election.

Duchy peer Lord Teverson told Pirate FM: "‘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 to make sure that this process goes no further."

The House of Lords voted by 300 to 231, a majority of 69, to delay boundary changes from later this year until 2018.

The crushing defeat for the Government was almost entirely due to Lib Dem peers - including several ministers - openly defying the Prime Minister and voting to sabotage the boundary changes.

A total of 72 Lib Dems voted against the Government, with none voting in favour. Six of the seven Lib Dem members of the Government frontbench in the Lords voted with Labour.

The Tories were desperately hoping to fight the next election under the new boundaries, which would have cut the number of Parliamentary constituencies from the present 650 to 600.

The Conservatives hoped the cut in constituencies could be worth another 20 seats, enough to put Mr Cameron back in 10 Downing Street without the need for a Coalition with the Lib Dems.

Senior Tories insist they will attempt to overturn the Lords defeat in the Commons, but with the Liberal Democrats now opposing boundary changes the move looks doomed as the Conservatives have so far failed to persuade the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and Northern Ireland parties to back them.

The Lords debate, on an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, saw some acrimonious exchanges between Conservative and Lib Dem peers and bitter attacks from Tories on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

7:02am 15th January 2013

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