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Divisions in the House of Commons: House of Commons Background Paper

Published Friday, August 2, 2013

This Standard Note describes the current practice and historical development of divisions.

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A vote in the House of Commons is known as a ‘division’. Members vote by walking through either an Aye (yes) or a No lobby. Their names are recorded as they file past the clerks and are then counted by the Tellers. Electronic voting has been considered in the past but not trialled or introduced.

Provisions exist for what must happen if a vote is tied, for the quorum required for a vote, how pecuniary interests must be handled, and how Members may record an abstention. There have also been systems of ‘pairing’, organised between political parties, to allow Government party Members ‘time off’ from voting in exchange for a Member from the Opposition also being absent.

This Standard Note describes the current practice and historical development of divisions.

Commons Briefing papers SN06401

Author: Mark Sandford

Topics: Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

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