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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Surprise Commons defeat for Labour
David Curry
The government lost amendments to David Curry's bill
Labour has suffered its first Commons defeats of the current parliament.

Despite the party's huge majority, whips failed to muster enough support for amendments to a Tory MPs' private members bill on pensions.

The decision could be reversed at a later stage - but the defeat is still an embarrassment for ministers.

Whips normally ensure enough MPs are in the Commons chamber to vote down any threat of a defeat.

Tory cheers

MPs were debating the Pension Annuities (Amendment) Bill, introduced by former Tory minister David Curry.

The bill aims to provide flexibility for pensioners forced to take annuities by the time they are 75.

The government is opposed to the measure, arguing that it would have precisely the opposite effect.

Ministers were attempting to remove sections offering special treatment for one religious group and stopping different treatment of men and women.

But the amendments were lost to loud Tory cheers.

The twin defeats came on a Friday when the Commons is traditionally thinly attended.

The government may decide to starve Mr Curry's bill of parliamentary time, causing it to fall.

Alternatively, it could make sure enough MPs are present to defeat the bill at its third reading.

Either way it is unlikely ever to become law.

See also:

25 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Fresh pension reform under fire
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