Majority of Lib Dem MPs vote to close bedroom tax loophole
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing, Regulation
Housing benefit: Lib dem defects ahead of commons vote
The majority of Liberal Democrat MPs voted to close a loophole in the bedroom tax during a House of Commons motion yesterday.
Of parliament's 57 Lib Dems, 34 voted to close the loophole, which exempts people who have been continuously claiming housing benefit since 1996 from the same residence from paying the controversial under-occupancy charge, with none voting to leave it in place.
High profile Lib Dems who voted to close the loophole included party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Minister of State for the Home Office Norman Baker, and party president Tim Farron.
Labour brought the motion about, in league with Green MP Caroline Lucas and others, to stop the government closing the loophole and to potentially force a 'vote of no confidence' in the policy.
The party argued that leaving the loophole open would have the benefit of at least protecting some social housing tenants from the ravages of the tax.
The motion was ultimately defeated 304 to 253 yesterday.
The loophole came about after key legislation was missed by the Department for Work and Pensions when it drafted the widely-criticised policy.
During yesterday's Commons debate, Peter Lilley MP, who was originally responsible for drafting the legislation that led to the loophole, said: "As the Secretary of State responsible for introducing the regulations in 1996, which interacted in an unforeseen way with the regulations last year, I must seek the House’s indulgence at not having recalled the detail of their text and drawn any possible problem to the attention of my successor.
"However, I assure the House that there was no intention of granting any long-term relief from a change of policy that I envisaged introducing if we had been re-elected and I had remained Secretary of State."
The 34 Lib Dems who voted against Labour's motion were:
Beith, Sir Alan
Bruce, Sir Malcolm
Carmichael, Mr Alistair
Harvey, Sir Nick
Huppert, Dr Julian
Russell, Sir Bob
Stunell, Sir Andrew