Division

The House of Commons votes by dividing. Those voting Aye (yes) to any proposition walk through the division lobby to the right of the Speaker and those voting no through the lobby to the left. In each of the lobbies there are desks occupied by Clerks who tick Members' names off division lists as they pass through. Then at the exit doors the Members are counted by two Members acting as tellers. The Speaker calls for a vote by announcing "Clear the Lobbies". In the House of Lords "Clear the Bar" is called. Division Bells ring throughout the building and the police direct all Strangers to leave the vicinity of the Membersí Lobby. They also walk through the public rooms of the House shouting "division". MPs have eight minutes to get to the Division Lobby before the doors are closed. Members make their way to the Chamber, where Whips are on hand to remind the uncertain which way, if any, their party is voting. Meanwhile the Clerks who will take the names of those voting have taken their place at the high tables with the alphabetical lists of MPs' names on which ticks are made to record the vote. When the tellers are ready the counting process begins - the recording of names by the Clerk and the counting of heads by the tellers. When both lobbies have been counted and the figures entered on a card this is given to the Speaker who reads the figures and announces "So the Ayes [or Noes] have it". In the House of Lords the process is the same except that the Lobbies are called the Contents Lobby and the Not Contents Lobby. Unlike many other legislatures, the House of Commons and the House of Lords have not adopted a mechanical or electronic means of voting. This was considered in 1998 but rejected. Divisions rarely take less than ten minutes and those where most Members are voting usually take about fifteen. Further information can be obtained from factsheet P9 at the UK Parliament site.

contributed by user local yokel