By Paul Goodman
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11.30pm Update List of Conservative MPs who opposed Second Reading:
Tellers: Peter Bone and Craig Whittaker.
The 91 figure comes from Sky News. It may not be quite right. But we can be sure that the revolt against the bill has beaten last autumn's 82 votes for a EU referendum.
So how big a proportion of Conservative backbenchers is 91?
Let's work on the assumption that there are roughly 207 Tory backbenchers. This is because there are 307 Conservative MPs in total. At least 80 serve as Commons Ministers or Whips. Add the Parliamentary Private Secretaries - there appears to be no complete record of them on the net - and one can't be far short of 100 members of the front bench.
So 91 is well over a third of all backbenchers and approaching half - 103 or so.
But wait. 91 is just the number that voted against the bill. There will be abstentions as well. So it's more likely than not that if one adds votes against to abstentions over half of all Tory backbenchers failed to support it.
And since some Ministers will have held their noses and voted for the bill it's fair to say that there's no consensus for it among the 307 Conservative MPs.
PPS Conor Burns resigned from the Government this afternoon and PPS Angie Bray has been sacked for voting against the bill.
By Matthew Barrett
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Today in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted proposals to increase the EU budget, introduce a financial transaction tax, abolish national rebates, impose direct EU taxes and end the returning of unspent EU money to national governments.
The European Parliament set out its priorities for the next seven-year budget plan, known as the "multi annual financial framework" (MFF). Although the EU works on annual budgets, the budgets are set within the longer-term MFF. Current debates concern the next MFF, which will be in operation 2014-2020.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, of which the Conservative Party is the largest party, voted against the proposals. There were, in total, 468 votes in favour and 134 against. Labour and UKIP also voted against the proposals, with the Lib Dems a mixture of for and abstaining. Edward McMillan-Scott, who was elected as a Conservative in 2009 before defecting to the Lib Dems, voted for the proposals.
The ECR put down an amendment to the proposals, which said:
Is therefore of the firm opinion that freezing the next MFF at the 2013 level, as demanded by some Member States, is a viable option; welcomes the letter from the five Heads of Government – those of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland – and shares the opinion that commitment appropriations over the next multiannual financial framework should not exceed the 2013 level, with a growth rate below the rate of inflation
This amendment was defeated by 540 votes to 104, with Labour MEPs voting for the amendment, UKIP against, and the Lib Dems divided between abstaining and voting against it. Edward McMillan-Scott voted against the amendment.
By Jonathan Isaby
Yesterday afternoon, Tim noted that the House of Lords was standing its ground and had inflicted another defeat on the Government over retaining a 40% threshold in the Bill setting up the AV referendum for May 5th.
The Bill then returned to the Commons, which again rejected their Lordships' amendment by 310 votes to 231 in a vote just after 8pm, with 18 Tory MPs voting in favour of the Lords' amendment:
The measure then returned to the House of Lords for further discussion at 10.30pm, at which point one of those Tories who had been in favour of the threshold, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, indicated that now was the time to call off the parliamentary ping-pong:
"We have now asked the other place to think about this issue twice and we have had a clear answer twice - by 70 votes last night and by 79 this evening, if my mathematics are right. We have heard a powerful speech from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the amendment, he was right to tell us that we are discussing an issue that focuses narrowly on a matter that affects the other place alone. Therefore, while I continue to have considerable and very grave doubts about the course on which my Government are embarking, I am afraid that I have now concluded, after two disobliging votes, that the time has come for the Members of the elected Chamber to make a final decision, because they alone will have to live with the consequences of their deliberations."
Not all rebel Tory peers voted with him - the likes of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Lord Lawson and Lord Hamilton of Epsom continued to insist on the threshold in the voting lobby - but the Government won the vote at 11pm by 221 votes to 153.
So by 11.45pm, Royal Assent was given and the Bill became the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, meaning that the ball is now formally rolling for the AV referendum on May 5th - and indeed for the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.
Analysis by Jonathan Isaby
Here's a full party-by-party breakdown of how MPs voted in the division on votes for prisoners last night.
NB: In terms of those who did not participate in the division, clearly I am not able to differentiate between those making a deliberate abstention and those who were simply not in Westminster due to commitments elsewhere, planned or otherwise.
Read the highlights of the debate here.
All 77 Ministers and Whips were instructed to abstain, but all other Conservative MPs had a free vote on a one-line whip.
141 backbenchers voted for the motion to retain the ban on prisoners voting:
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