Brown accused of delaying Bill to appease pro-life voters in Glasgow

Gordon Brown has been accused of delaying a controversial Bill on embryology and abortion in order to save votes in the Glasgow East by-election.

Labour MPs led by the former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt were seeking to change legislation on Monday to make it easier for women to have an abortion. But the Government announced it was delaying the debate on the Bill until the autumn, after it was raised at a Cabinet meeting yesterday morning by the Government's chief whip, Geoff Hoon.

The legislation has upset the Roman Catholic church and could be an issue in the strongly working class seat in Glasgow, which has a large Catholic population.

Mr Brown, whose future could be in doubt if Labour is defeated by the SNP on 24 July, is pulling out all the stops to hold the seat. Theresa May, the shadow Leader of the House, accused him of postponing the Bill to avoid defeat.

Her claims were reinforced by Jim Dobbin, the Labour MP and chairman of Parliament's pro-life group, which opposes the liberalisation of abortion laws. Accusing ministers of acting "insensitively", he said: "The likely reason is the enormous public uproar the Bill, with its hugely controversial proposals, has had – particularly in areas such as Glasgow East."

The Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who has led a campaign to tighten abortion laws, said: "The Government is on the run and knows that the liberalising amendments on abortion that were being championed by its own MPs were deeply unpopular with the public at large."

The change of business was announced to the Commons by Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House. The changes contradicted advice given to the shadow Cabinet just 48 hours earlier.

Health ministers were also unaware at that stage that the Bill would be "pulled". The Independent has learnt it was discussed at a private meeting of Labour's parliamentary committee – the "shop stewards" for Labour MPs – with Ms Harman on Wednesday. But the turning point came yesterday at the Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister flew back from the G8 summit in Japan to renewed speculation about his future. There were claims that Mr Hoon has been sidelined by Mr Brown's ally, the deputy chief whip Nick Brown, and trusted lieutenants who have been ordered to tighten up discipline among Labour MPs.

Downing Street said the claims were "nonsense". Mr Brown also became embroiled in a row over the disclosure that nine million motorists could face vehicle excise duty bills of £245 by April 2010.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, claimed the Prime Minister had misled the Commons on 4 June when he said that most motorists would benefit from a change in Vehicle Excise Duty.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam