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House of Commons Commission

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 25 January 2018

The right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, was asked—

Electronic Voting

3. To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate the Commission has made of the potential cost of introducing electronic voting in the Chamber. (903526)

The Commission has given no formal consideration to a move to electronic voting in the House. Its responsibility in that matter is limited to the financial or staffing implications of any change to the present system, were a change to be agreed by the House.

The voting system here is a bit crazy, Mr Speaker: last week, we spent two hours on eight votes. Most other Parliaments in the world would laugh at that—indeed, they do. Given that MPs do value meeting each other in the Lobbies, can we consider a hybrid system so that we move to something electronic when there is more than one vote? That would save those two hours.

I have some sympathy with the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, but as I am sure he—now an expert in these matters—knows, this is a matter for the House. If he chose to, he could approach the Procedure Committee and ask it to look at this issue.

We do have a sort of electronic voting now because the Clerks are using iPads—but using the iPads takes longer than using the pieces of paper of the past because it takes more time to spot the individual names.

I still support our going through the Lobbies—it is a good opportunity to meet Ministers and other colleagues—but it would be good if every vote did not take 16 minutes. Would it not be a good idea to consider some swifter form of technology for the Division Lobbies? We could use a fingerprint or thumbprint to vote.

The hon. Gentleman has made a sensible point, which I am happy to take back in considering whether the electronic voting that he has described could speed things up.