Devonwall political map change blocked
PLANNED changes to Plymouth's political map have been blocked in the Commons after the coalition split and the Liberal Democrats voted with the opposition.
MPs voted by 334 to 292, majority 42, to delay the planned overhaul of the electoral boundaries until 2018 after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg withdrew his party's support for David Cameron's plan in retaliation for the failure of House of Lords reform.
This had to be scrapped in the face of entrenched opposition from Conservative MPs along with Labour's refusal to back a crucial timetable for the legislation.
Mr Clegg had claimed the Conservatives had broken the coalition 'contract' and that, as a result, his MPs could no longer support changes to constituency boundaries for the 2015 General Election.
The proposed overhaul aimed to slash the number of Westminster seats by 50 down to 600 and iron out discrepancies in constituency electorates.
In an unprecedented move reflecting the divisions between the coalition partners, the Prime Minister agreed to suspend the need for Government ministers to exercise collective responsibility for the vote on the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill.
Mr Cameron 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.
Despite being revised Plymouth's boundary changes remained controversial as the city's Moor View ward would have been part of the proposed constituency of Tavistock and Plympton.
The Commons vote also kicked into touch controversial plans for a cross-border 'Devonwall' seat to the north.
Conservative MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter said: "It's not a great day for democracy that the seats are not going to be equalised all over the country, so everyone's vote carries the same weight.
"I am afraid I am disappointed in our coalition partners who have not put the national interest first and reneged on a very clear understanding, but recognise at least this is out the way now and we can focus on the economy, vital reform of public services, and things our constituents want us to focus on."
Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison Seabeck said: "Clearly it's important at a local level because now we have two Plymouth constituencies with coherent boundaries. Moor View ward stays within the Plymouth area."
She added: "In national terms this sent a message to the government that actually the coalition is crumbling and that potentially on a controversial issue they are not guaranteed to get the legislation they want through Parliament."