MPs approve WMCA by 279-4 votes, but Labour support thin on the ground
A vote in favour of setting up the West Midlands Combined Authority was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Commons with 279 MPs voting in favour and just four against.
But the records indicate a lack of enthusiasm among the region’s Labour MPs.
Out of the party’s strong West Midlands contingent, only Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill) and Ian Austin (Dudley North) took part in the ballot on the statutory order to establish WMCA, both voting in favour.
Only one other Birmingham MP took part, with Andrew Mitchell the Conservative member for Sutton Coldfield voting for WMCA.
In all, 20 West Midlands Conservative MPs voted for WMCA and two Labour MPs.
Other members voting in favour of WMCA included David Cameron, the Prime Minister, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and former Tory Chancellor Kenneth Clarke.
The vote had to be held after Warley Labour MP John Spellar lodged an official objection.
Mr Spellar, an opponent of metro mayors and combined authorities, wanted a formal vote by the House of Commons. In the end, he was one of four MPs to vote against, the others being veteran leftwingers Dennis Skinner and Anne Clwyd and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
The ballot took place yesterday between 11am and 2pm at a time when the Commons would have been crowded for Prime Minister’s Questions.
The combined authority consists of the seven metropolitan West Midlands councils as full members –Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton – alongside three local enterprise partnerships. Several shire district and county councils are members without full voting rights.
The body will have devolved powers to run transport, economic development and workplace skills and will be chaired by an elected metro mayor from May 2017.
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