Record Government defeats in Commons and Lords

Mrs May’s unprecedented 230-vote defeat on 15 January prompted the following letter, published in The Times on 17 January. (One point was unintentionally omitted: the largest Commons defeat in the nineteenth century. That occurred on January 29, 1855 when a coalition government under Lord Aberdeen lost a vote of confidence by 157 votes.)

Sir, The Commons has never defeated a government by a larger margin. The majority of 166 against Ramsay MacDonald on October 8, 1924, the worst government defeat of the 20th century (following its two earlier defeats of 140 and 161), exceeded those which occurred in the 19th century. Nevertheless, Tuesday did involve “the biggest parliamentary defeat of a government in more than a century” (leading article, Jan 16). As a result of its massive inbuilt Tory majority, the House of Lords threw out Lloyd George’s People’s Budget by 295 votes on November 30, 1909. The biggest parliamentary defeat in history occurred on September 8, 1893 when the Lords rejected Gladstone’s second home rule bill  by 419 votes to 41.

Lord Lexden
House of Lords