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House Of Commons (Timing Of Divisions)

Volume 888: debated on Wednesday 12 March 1975

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I have a statement to make about the timing of Divisions.

It has been represented to me that some hon. Members who have desks in the Norman Shaw North building and other outbuildings have recently found some difficulty, when a Division has been announced, in getting to the Lobby before the doors have been locked.

Standing Order No. 34, which governs this matter, lays down that a period of at least six minutes must be allowed to elapse between the original direction by the Chair to "Clear the Lobby "and the later direction to "Lock the doors ". Six minutes has, in fact, long been the standard time allowed.

I propose now, for an experimental period, to extend this period of six minutes to eight minutes. I should point out that the extra two minutes so allowed will be added to the time elapsing between the announcement of the Tellers and the direction to "Lock the doors ". There will be no change in the interval between the original direction to "Clear the Lobby" and the appointment of Tellers, which is fixed at two minutes by the Standing Order, and in which matter I have no discretion. There should, therefore, be no delay in the beginning of the count by the Tellers : and, provided that all Members, from wherever they have to start, still continue to come to the Lobby as quickly as possible when the Division bells ring there is no reason why the time taken by a Division should be increased.