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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Cumbria political boundaries shake-up delayed

Plans which would have seen the electoral layout of Cumbria overhauled have been delayed until at least 2018.

The government’s bid to reduce the number of MPs across the country from 650 to 600 ahead of the next general election failed in parliament.

The Liberal Democrats turned on their coalition colleagues as MPs voted by 334 to 292, majority 42, to delay the review of the boundaries until 2018.

The plans would have seen only one MP for the whole of west Cumbria and Millom moved into the Barrow and Furness constituency.

Lib Dem opposition to the plans had been strong after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg withdrew his party’s support for Prime Minister David 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, Mr Cameron 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.

Draft proposals for Cumbria, which would also have seen Windermere and Whitehaven in the same constituency, were condemned in 2011 by all the main political parties.

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