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PEERS WIN DELAY FOR LONDON POLL

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The government's plans for a 7 May referendum on the creation of a Greater London Authority were dealt a blow on Tu...
The government's plans for a 7 May referendum on the creation of a Greater London Authority were dealt a blow on Tuesday when peers voted by a majority of six to delay the poll until after the Greater London Authority Bill is published.

Tory frontbencher Lord Bowness, a former Croydon LBC leader, argued during the committee stage of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill that the poll should be deferred until more details were known about the proposals.

The Tory amendment to delay it until at least eight weeks after the detailed legislation is published was passed by 128 votes to 122 - the first government defeat of 1998. It coincided with the Cabinet committee discussing reform of the House of Lords.

Junior environment minister Baroness Hayman warned that the cost to councils of holding the referendum on a different day from the London borough elections could be about£3 million.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott said after the result: 'This is an anti-democratic vote, denying Londoners the chance to make their choice in May, decided by unelected hereditary peers.

'We fully intend to go back to the Commons to restore the right of Londoners to vote in a referendum in May this year.'

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