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Government to keep pushing boundaries.

Byline: JONATHANWALKER

included Soho, currently part of Birmingham Ladywood. A number of other constituencies would cross local authority boundaries. Shard End, currently part of Hodge Hill, would become part of the Meriden constituency, which would also include parts of Solihull, and three wards in Warwickshire. Sheldon, part of Birmingham Yardley, would be represented by the MP for Solihull, and Oscott, part of Birmingham Perry Barr would be represented by the MP for Walsall South.

At the same time, the number of MPs dedicated entirely to Birmingham constituents would fall from ten to nine.

Sutton Coldfield, in Birmingham, would almost certainly remain a safe Conservative seat. Birmingham Yardley, currently held by the Liberal Democrats, would probably continue to be a marginal seat with the Lib Dems battling Labour. It would leave eight sitting Labour MPs chasing the seven remaining seats, unless one of them chose to contest Yardley.

The Boundary Commission is currently considering submissions from a consultation into the proposed changes, and will not publish its final decision until October 2013, assuming the whole review process is not scrapped.

Liberal Democrats claim the Conservatives have reneged on the Coalition Agreement signed by the parties after the last election, in which the parties committed themselves "to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation".

Mr Cameron has conceded that he cannot push the House of Lords Reform Bill through the Commons following a rebellion by backbench MPs in July. The Government avoided defeat on the Commons timetable for the Bill only by cancelling the vote.

The Government is to press ahead with a Commons vote on boundary changes, which could lead to the West Midlands losing five MPs, despite opposition from Liberal Democrats.

Proposed changes include cutting Birmingham's ten seats to nine and potential losers include high-profile Labour MP Liam Byrne, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

His constituency of Hodge Hill would be merged with Ladywood - also held by a Labour MP, Shabana Mahmood - leaving him with a difficult selection battle if he hoped to remain in Parliament.

Mr Byrne was apparently thrown a lifeline after Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg vowed to block the reforms, in retaliation for Conservative backbenchers opposing plans for an elected House of Lords.

But Downing Street is insisting it will hold a vote on boundary reforms, which involve cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600, despite Mr Clegg's objections.

It is unclear how Liberal Democrat Ministers would vote, but the issue could bring coalition tensions to a head if they were forced to abstain on a government Bill, or to vote against it.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said the Prime Minister could be hoping to push the legislation through the Commons with the support of the Scottish Nationalist Party and Ulster Unionists.

But he added: "There are quite a few Tories who might lose their seats if these changes go ahead, so if Mr Cameron tries to push it through with the Scottish Nationalists or Ulster Unionists then he will have some difficulties."

The MP said he backed Mr Clegg's decision to oppose the boundary reforms. He said: "There is a good argument that if you reduce the size of the Commons then you increase the power of the executive and that would be a move in the wrong direction."

Labour MP John Spellar (Lab Warley) welcomed Mr Clegg's announcement. He said: "The scrapping of these unwanted boundary changes is a welcome move, it is just a shame it has taken this long to happen.

"These proposed changes have disrupted local communities, who didn't want the changes in the first place."

Under the boundary commission's proposals, Mr Spellar's constituency would have been renamed Smethwick and would have

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Changes could cost Liam Byrne his seat
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 23, 2012
Words:637
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