Divisions

25.83The procedure on divisions is governed by Standing Order Nos 53 to 60. On the order being given to clear the Bar, members of the public are cleared from area immediately behind the Bar and the division lobbies, but not from the galleries, the space within the rails of the Throne, the Clerks' and officials' boxes, nor the seats below the Bar, unless the House so orders. The doors at the exits from the division lobbies are locked.

As soon as the order for clearing the Bar has been given three minutes are set aside for two tellers to be appointed for each side. Where after the lapse of three minutes no tellers, or only one teller, can be found for one side, the question is resolved in favour of the side which has appointed two tellers, without a division taking place.1 If neither side appoints two tellers the question is resolved in the same way as if there had been an equality of votes (see para 25.88 ).2 Where tellers are appointed the doors at the exits from the division lobbies are unlocked and the Member of the Lords on the Woolsack or in the Chair again puts the question and collects the voices. If only one side replies, he or she resolves the question and no division takes place. If one or more voices from each side shouts `Content’ and `Not-content’ he or she directs that the division take place. The Contents go by the door to the right of the Throne through the lobby on the spiritual side and re-enter the House through the door beyond the bar. The Not-contents go through the door beyond the bar on the temporal side and re-enter the House through the door to the left of the Throne. One teller for the Contents and one for the Not-contents, and two Clerks, attend in each lobby to record the numbers and names of those voting.

A Member of the Lords may vote in a division although they were not in the House to hear the question put. The Lord Speaker and Senior Deputy Speaker are expected not to vote.3 A Deputy Speaker or Deputy Chairman may vote, but they do not have a casting vote. A Member of the Lords may, usually on the ground of infirmity, vote in the Chamber. Such votes, and those of the Member of the Lords on the Woolsack or in the Chair, are taken in the House by the Clerk, and notified by the Clerk to the tellers on their return from the division lobbies (Standing Order No 54).

After the lapse of eight minutes from the time when the Bar is ordered to be cleared (or longer at the discretion of the Member of the Lords on the Woolsack or in the Chair)4 the House or the Committee is again informed of the question which is the subject of the division. The doors of the Chamber are then locked and only Members of the Lords who are already in the lobbies or in the House may vote. When the tellers are satisfied that all Members of the Lords who wish to vote in their respective lobbies have done so, they return to the Table and communicate the numbers (including their own votes) to the Clerk, who adds the votes of the Member of the Lords on the Woolsack or in the Chair and any Member of the Lords voting in their place. The Clerk writes down the result on a paper and hands it to one of the tellers for the winning side who presents it to the Member of the Lords on the Woolsack or in the Chair. He or she reads the result of the division to the House and resolves the question as follows: ‘So the Contents [or Not-contents] have it’.

Footnotes

  1. LJ (1967–68) 487; ibid (1986–87) 71, 189, 264, 295; ibid (1987–88) 74, 170, 777, 924; ibid (1998-99) 583; ibid (2003–04) 290; ibid (2005–06) 555.
  2. HL Deb (1981–82) 428, c 97; ibid (24 June 2004) 662, c 1434.
  3. LJ (2005–06) 783.
  4. SO No 53(4); LJ (1992–93) 439, 440–41.