MPs 'misled on VAT vote'

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Indy Politics
GOVERNMENT whips were accused of reneging on deals with minority party MPs yesterday after the Commons approved VAT on fuel bills by a majority of eight on Monday night, writes Anthony Bevins.

Yesterday's Independent report about MPs who had not voted brought protests from Robert Maclennan and Alex Carlile, two Liberal Democrat MPs. Mr Maclennan said he had been paired with John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, who is ill. Mr Carlile thought he had been paired with Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor. But the Chancellor voted and it later emerged that Mr Carlile had been paired with Nicholas Soames, the agriculture minister.

Senior Labour sources alleged last night that three of the four SDLP MPs who had not voted had been 'cheated' by the Government whips. They claimed that the four SDLP members had in fact been paired with only one minister - Sir John Wheeler, the new Northern Ireland minister, although Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State, and Robert Atkins, another Northern Ireland minister, were also missing for the vote.