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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living