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Volume 264: debated on Monday 23 October 1995

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To ask the Lord President of the Council how many Divisions there were in the House between January and 19 July 1995 and in the comparable period in 1994. [36494]

The number of Divisions in the House between 10 January 1995 and 19 July 1995 was 185. That period covered 116 sitting days. The number of Divisions in the House between 11 January 1994 and 21 July 1994 was 246. That period covered 118 sitting days, including an extended period during which the usual channels were blocked.

Does the Leader of the House accept that what has really happened is that the House of Commons sits for a smaller number of hours and the result is that there have been fewer Divisions? Does it not also indicate that there is not so much clear blue water between the two Front Benches? Perhaps in future he will remind all the speakers at the Tory party conference that the clear blue water looks a bit purple at the present time.

I readily accept that there is even more clear blue water between the Government Front Bench and the Bench below the Gangway on which the hon. Gentleman sits than between the Government and Opposition Front Benches. What I suspect is also revealed is that there is a lot of clear red blue water in the Gangway.

May I ask my right hon. Friend to do a little further analysis of those figures? Will he enumerate the occasions on which the official Opposition Front Bench has voted against measures to try to reduce crime, to reduce Britain's competitiveness and to increase public expenditure? Will he also analyse how often the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has actually voted against the wishes of the Opposition Front Bench?

I think in both cases the answer is probably that the occasions are too numerous to recall.