On a point of order, Mr Speaker. First, may I associate myself with those eloquent remarks, and completely concur?
I know you were in the Chair, Mr Speaker, when the unaccompanied children in Greece and Italy debate occurred—I know that because you cut the time limit for speeches immediately before I spoke. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.] That must have been said by a Whip. There was a strange occurrence at the end of that debate, however. There was suddenly, in the normal way, the call of Ayes and Noes, and there was a bellowing of Noes from the Opposition Benches; in fact, I remember the Labour Deputy Chief Whip bellowing that he did not agree with the motion. Because we had passed the time of interruption, there was a deferred Division. Well, lo and behold, the results of the deferred Division were reported in Hansard this morning, and I can find only one person, who happens to be Conservative Member, voting against the motion. Normally when a Division takes place, there has to be at least two Tellers and somebody who has objected. It appears to me that this was a totally contrived vote to waste the time of the House and cost the House money. But perhaps I am misunderstanding it. I would certainly like your advice, Mr Speaker.
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. It certainly would not be for me to suggest that any Division of the House was contrived; I am not in a position to make any such statement. There is of course a very long-standing convention in this place that vote should follow voice; that is to say, it is profoundly disorderly for somebody to shout in one direction and then vote in another. However, the convention is quite strict and, in my experience, clear: a Member must not vote in opposition to the way in which he or she shouted; there is, however, no obligation to vote. It is therefore conceivable that somebody could shout in one direction and subsequently not be present in the Division Lobby. I am neither advocating nor denouncing such a practice; I am simply recognising the procedural and constitutional reality for what it is. Nevertheless, the hon. Gentleman, who is himself doughty and indefatigable, has registered his point in his own inimitable way.
Senior Judiciary Appointments (Disregard of Age of Candidates) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Keith Vaz presented a Bill to require those responsible for the selection and interviewing of candidates for, and appointment to, the posts of Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of England and Wales, the Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England and the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales to disregard the age of applicants under 70 years of age; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March, and to be printed (Bill 150).