Voice and vote

20.61The opinions of Members are collected from their voices in the House, and not merely by a division. If their voices and their votes should be at variance, the voice will bind the vote. Members therefore who give their voices with the ‘ayes’ or ‘noes’ when the Speaker takes the voices, are bound if they vote to vote with them;1 although a Member has been permitted to correct their voice at the second call.2 A Member who gives their voice with the ‘ayes’ or ‘noes’ cannot, however, be obliged to go into the division lobby to cast a vote.3

The objection that a Member's vote was contrary to their voice should be taken either before the numbers are reported by the tellers or immediately afterwards; it will not be entertained after the declaration of the numbers from the Chair.4 A Member who makes a motion is entitled to vote against it, provided that they give their voice with the ‘noes’ when the question is put from the Chair.5 Similarly, a Member whose name appears on the Notice Paper in support of an amendment is not precluded from voting against it.6

The Speaker has condemned the practice of forcing a division by voice contrary to vote as ‘irregular and unparliamentary’.7

Footnotes

  1. Parl Deb (1906) 158, c 1052; CJ (1912–13) 378; HC Deb (1912) 42, c 2133; ibid (12 July 2013) 566, c 660; and see ibid (1992–93) 224, cc 1101–2 when the Deputy Speaker explained that the rule referred to the voice when calling ‘aye’ or ‘no’, not to an actual speech.
  2. HC Deb (1946–47) 436, c 710. In 1860, a question was raised privately, where a division was being re-run because of a difference in the numbers reported by the tellers (see below) whether a Member who had voted with the ayes in the first division could afterwards vote with the noes; but it was held that, as the first division had become null and void, the House could only deal with the Member's voice and vote in the last and valid division.
  3. Parl Deb (1866) 183, c 1919; HC Deb (1970–71) 808, cc 1119, 1376.
  4. SO No 39(2). See also HC Deb (1981–82) 21, c 322; ibid (30 October 2013) 569, c 985; ibid (8 November 2013) 570, c 536; ibid (23 October 2015) 600, c 1330; ibid (18 October 2017) 629, cc 954–56.
  5. Parl Deb (1856) 141, c 1103; HC Deb (1936–37) 326, c 2811.
  6. Parl Deb (1876) 227, c 473; HC Deb (18 October 2010) 516, c 767; ibid (17 April 2018) 639, cc 192, 199–200, 242–46.
  7. HC Deb (1962–63) 679, cc 1685–86.