MPs’ relief at Lords vote on boundaries

First published in News by

The vast majority of MPs in the Bradford district now believe plans to change parliamentary boundaries should be ditched.

They have reacted after Liberal Democrat peers voted against proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 in a massive constituency shake-up which is thought by experts to be worth up to 20 extra seats for the Conservatives.

There was outcry in 2011 when the Boundary Commission published its first proposals to carve up the electorate and wipe out the Shipley constituency and have four main MPs with other parts of the district being covered by Calder Valley and Yeadon. The re-drawing of the map would have created four constituencies named Bradford Central, Bradford East and Horsforth, Keighley and Shipley.

The remaining parts of the district would have been split between another four MPs, with Wyke and Royds being represented by Spen Valley, Tong being grouped with Leeds West, Pudsey and Tong, Wharfedale moved into Otley constituency and Queensbury represented by a Halifax MP – creating eight MPs for Bradford.

But those plans now look set to be delayed until after the 2015 general election after six of the seven Lib Dem frontbenchers in the House of Lords joined the revolt – the first time in this Parliament that ministers in either House have voted against the Government.

Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron would seek to overturn the amendment in the Commons, but without an overall Tory majority the parliamentary arithmetic is against him.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear over the summer that the Lib Dems would seek to delay the plans after he was forced to abandon plans to reform the House of Lords in the face of Tory opposition.

Shipley MP Philip Davies (Con) said that he voted against the Bill to change the boundaries.

“Although I am pleased that the stance of the Lib Dems is likely to result in the boundaries remaining unchanged, I think that the attitude of Nick Clegg is what you would expect from primary school children rather than from the Deputy Prime Minister,” he said.

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) said that he was pleased because under a shake-up his seat would have disappeared.

David Ward, the Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, said that he had never supported boundary reforms because he believed they may have had a damaging effect in Bradford.

Bradford West MP George Galloway (Respect) blamed Mr Clegg for chucking his toys out of the pram. “There are profound intrinsic reasons to oppose boundary changes but to descend to this petty level just gives people another reason to point at parliamentarians and disparage them,” he said.

But Kris Hopkins, (Keighley and Ilkley, Con), said: “The boundaries review was never linked to House of Lords reform. I am sorry they (the Lib Dems) have reneged on the agreement reached which included reducing the number of MPs.”

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