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Majority of Lib Dem MPs vote to close bedroom tax loophole

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Majority of Lib Dem MPs vote to close bedroom tax loophole

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing, Regulation

Housing benefit: Lib dem defects ahead of commons vote 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:

Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Beith, Sir Alan
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Jeremy
Bruce, Sir Malcolm
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Vince
Carmichael, Mr Alistair
Clegg, Nick
Crockart, Mike
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Don
Hames, Duncan
Harvey, Sir Nick
Heath, David
Hemming, John
Horwood, Martin
Huppert, Dr Julian
Thornton, Mike
Laws, David
Lloyd, Stephen
Munt, Tessa
Pugh, John
Rogerson, Dan
Russell, Sir Bob
Stunell, Sir Andrew
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wright, Simon

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