The Government has suffered two defeats this week on the Welfare Reform Bill, both attracting considerable media attention. The fact of defeat is, as I have previously noted, not particularly unusual. These two defeats, though, are noteworthy, the first for the fact that it was Liberal Democrat votes that accounted for it. The Government is usually in trouble when there is large turnout of cross-benchers and they divide disproportionately against Government. As you will see, this did not happen on this occasion. The second defeat is notable for its scale (270 votes to 128), the largest defeat so far in the session, as a result of all parts of the House coming together to support the amendment.
The vote on Monday on the amendment moved by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds (to exclude those in recepit of child benefit from the cap) was:
For the amendment: Bishops 5, Crossbench 37, Labour 175, Liberal Democrat 26, Other 9 [Total: 252]
Against the amendment: Conservative 152, Crossbench 41, Liberal Democrat 39, Other 5 [Total: 237]
In yesterday’s vote on the amendment moved by Conservative former Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, to remove parents from being subject to fees by the Child Support Agency if they have taken reasonable steps to establish if it is possible to make a maintenance agreement, the voting figures were:
For the amendment: Bishops 1, Conservative 34, Crossbench 57, Labour 155, Liberal Democrats 16, Other 7 [Total: 270]
Against the amendment: Conservative 97, Crossbench 1, Liberal Democrats 30 [Total: 128]