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Divisions in the House of Commons

Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Divisions are the main form of voting in the House of Commons. This briefing paper describes how it works and how it developed.

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The main form of voting 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 financial interests must be handled, and how Members may record an abstention. There have also been systems of ‘pairing’, organised between political parties. Since January 2019 there has been the introduction of proxy voting.

This briefing paper describes the current practice and historical development of divisions.

Commons Briefing papers SN06401

Author: Edward Hicks

Topics: Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

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