Labour loses Lords poll vote

Labour peers have narrowly failed in an attempt to disrupt the government's planned referendum next May on a new voting system.

The House of Lords yesterday rejected, by 224 votes to 210, a procedural move to delay second reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which has already cleared the Commons.

Former Labour lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton had argued the bill was hybrid and should be referred to a panel of parliamentary clerks. If they had ruled it was hybrid, it would have been sent to a committee and the poll timetable would have been thrown into chaos.