Tories pledge full debate on reforming abortion law

A Conservative government would guarantee a full debate on reforming the law on abortion, senior party figures said yesterday as they lambasted the Government for quashing discussion of the issue through lack of parliamentary time, leaving only four-and-a-half hours to debate some 80 amendments.

Tory frontbenchers insisted that MPs needed a thorough discussion of the 1967 Abortion Act, including proposals to cut the 24-week time limit as well as proposals to liberalise the law. Last night, MPs voted to give the Bill a third reading by 355 votes to 129 – a majority of 226. But there were 16 rebel Labour MPs who voted against the Government. One was the former transport secretary Ruth Kelly. She managed to avoid the last vote on the Bill in May, when she was still part of the Cabinet. The former welfare reform minister Frank Field also voted against the Bill.