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House of Commons Hansard
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Electronic Voting Systems
12 July 2018
Volume 644
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2. To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what representations the Commission has received on the potential installation of electronic voting systems in the Chamber as part of the (a) restoration and renewal programme and (b) northern estate programme. [906398]

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4. To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what representations the Commission has received on the potential installation of electronic voting systems in the Chamber as part of the (a) restoration and renewal programme and (b) northern estate programme. [906400]

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The Commission has received various oral representations in previous Question Times. At its meeting on 14 May 2018, and in the absence of any House determination of a change in voting procedure, the Commission endorsed a plan for a House of Commons decant that envisages a Commons decant Chamber and two Division Lobbies, on the basis of a like-for-like layout, with adjustments to improve accessibility for Members and visitors to the Public Gallery. It will be a matter for the shadow sponsor board, once appointed, to consult on the requirements of the Palace. The procedures of the House remain the responsibility of the House itself.

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Last week MPs were concerned that multiple votes interrupted their watching of the England match, but the more fundamental issue is that multiple votes eat into valuable debating time, as happened with the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. We were left only 15 minutes for a so-called debate on the UK Government’s power grab. Surely it is time to consider electronic voting, and the decant could be the first step in that process, instead of having a like-for-like, outdated set-up.

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I remind the House that it is a matter for the Procedure Committee. Members who ask me this question should perhaps make a submission to the Procedure Committee so that it can consider their proposal.

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Is the opportunity of Government Back Benchers to have a cosy chat in the Division Lobby with Ministers a good enough reason to maintain the antiquated voting system, which costs not only a huge amount of money but a great deal of valuable parliamentary time?

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I suppose that matter would be entirely appropriate for him to include in the submission to the Procedure Committee as perhaps a reason why the House might want to change its procedures on this issue.