Point of Order

– in the House of Commons at 12:11 pm on 7th February 2013.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 12:11 pm, 7th February 2013

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. You will know that last week, a Minister inadvertently voted in favour of and against a particular proposition. This week, six Members voted both in favour and against, in the same Division, on the Government’s same-sex marriage proposals. Historically, the House has always deprecated this because it creates a problem if, for example, people are counted twice for a quorum. Moreover, we now have new rules on what counts as a no-confidence motion leading to a general election, whereby the number of Members counted is important.

May I therefore ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to discuss with Mr Speaker referring this matter to the Procedure Committee so that we come up with a firm view? “Erskine May” is very conflicted on what can happen: in some circumstances, people are allowed to revise their vote, as happened in December 1947.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for having given notice of his point of order. As he knows, the Chair has deprecated intentionally voting in both Lobbies—that is, other than cancelling out inadvertently incorrect votes, as he mentioned. We have no formal procedure for registering abstention in this House, and I would not wish us to have an informal system that would not be understood by those outside this House, and which might well mean that Members who abstain from voting are unfairly criticised for being absent. So I continue to deprecate the practice, but if there is pressure to examine a formal alternative, that would be a matter, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said, for the Procedure Committee, which I am sure has heard the message loud and clear.