House of Lords Library

House of Lords: Largest Votes Recorded

Published Thursday, March 16, 2017

This House of Lords Library briefing provides information about the largest votes that have taken place in the House of Lords.

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On 7 March 2017, the House of Lords voted at report stage on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by 366 votes to 268 to agree to an amendment moved by Lord Pannick (Crossbench). In total 634 Members voted, almost 4 in 5 of those eligible to do so at the time of the vote. This is the largest total number of Members voting in a single division on record.

This beat the previous largest vote of 621 recorded on 14 July 1993. On this occasion, Members voted by 445 to 176 against an amendment to the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, which would have required a referendum to be held. The Times called it the “biggest turnout of peers in modern times”. In terms of the proportion of Members eligible to vote at that time, this represented about three in five.

Until this year, the 1993 vote was thought to have been the largest since 1831. This has been widely assumed to mean a larger vote took place in 1831, possibly on the ‘Great Reform Bill’. However, the House was not large enough at that time to vote in such numbers: figures available for 1830 suggest the House had 399 Members. However, in rejecting the ‘Great Reform Bill’ on 7 October 1831 a total of 357 Members voted. On the basis that the House had around 400 Members in 1831 this would have equated to almost nine in ten of Members voting in that division.

The following table provides details of votes held since the House of Lords Act 1999 where the number of Members voting totalled more than 500.

 

Number Voted

Issue

Bill/Issue

Bill Stage

Date

634

Amendment requiring parliamentary approval for the outcome of negotiations with the European Union

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Report

7 March 2017

614

Amendment concerning EU citizen’s right to remain

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Committee

1 March 2017

592

Amendment to the motion to send the Bill to a select committee for consideration

Health and Social Care Bill

Second Reading

12 October 2011

584

Amendment to the motion declining to consider the Regulations until the Government laid a report before the House

Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

N/A

26 October 2015

574

Amendment to the motion declining to give the Bill a second reading

Health and Social Care Bill

Second Reading

12 October 2011

561

Amendment to the motion declining to consider the Regulations until the Government issued a consultation and laid a report before the House

Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

N/A

26 October 2015

561

To appoint a select committee to consider the impact of clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill

Trade Union Bill

N/A

20 January 2016

544

Detention of 15 year olds in secure colleges

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

Commons Amendments

9 December 2014

541

Amendment to the motion that the Bill be not read a third time until the House had the opportunity to consider further specified information

Health and Social Care Bill

Third Reading

19 March 2012

538

Amendment to the motion declining to give the Bill a second reading

Marriages (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Second Reading

4 June 2013

532

Amendment concerning students and academic staff at higher education providers

Higher Education and Research Bill

Report

13 March 2017

532

Amendment regarding the number and distribution of seats in the House of Commons

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Report

9 February 2011

531

Amendment to delay the report of the Boundary Commission until October 2018

Electoral Registration and Administration Bill

Committee

14 January 2013

528

Amendment to a government amendment concerning publicity of Boundary Commission reports

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Report

8 February 2011

524

Amendment to the motion to annul

Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015

N/A

27 October 2015

513

Amendment concerning civil liability for unlawful interceptions

Investigatory Powers Bill

Consideration of Commons Reasons and Amendments

2 November 2016

503

Motion to annul

Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015

N/A

27 October 2015

Lords In Focus LIF-2017-0023

Author: Matthew Purvis

Topics: House of Lords, Parliamentary procedure

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