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Divisions of the House

Volume 654: debated on Thursday 21 February 2019

The exact time spent on Divisions is not recorded, but there were 198 Divisions in the Chamber in 2018, 28 of which were deferred Divisions. If we estimate that each of the 170 real-time Divisions took 15 minutes, then 42 hours and 30 minutes were spent collectively by Members of Parliament participating in Divisions in the Chamber in 2018.

Indeed, the Institute for Government estimates that we have spent nearly 49 hours trooping through the packed Lobbies, which must be in breach of health and safety. In a week when Westminster is in absolute chaos, does the fact that we wander through the Lobbies like elephants in some sort of circus not just highlight the fact that Westminster is broken and does not work for Scotland?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question, although I did anticipate that it would be about electronic voting, so he has rather wrong-footed me. However, he makes a point that I would personally support, which is that we waste an awful lot of time trooping through the Lobbies, and I would also support the rolling out of electronic voting as a solution.

The right hon. Gentleman will be delighted to know that I took his advice from the previous House of Commons Commission questions and wrote to the Chair of the Procedure Committee suggesting that it finally get to grips with the issue. I look forward to joining the right hon. Gentleman in giving evidence to the Committee and making the case for reform of the outdated Lobby voting system in the House of Commons.

I am not sure that I detect a question there. However, I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has finally acted on the advice I have given him and his colleagues on a number of occasions by raising the matter with the Procedure Committee, which I am sure will look at this with due consideration and, I hope, will come to the right conclusion.

May I suggest to SNP Members that, if they occasionally voted with the Government, they could use the time usefully in the Division Lobby by lobbying Ministers?

Again, I completely fail to detect a question there for me. However, I am sure SNP Members will have noted the suggestion that they should work closely with the Conservative Government in the Division Lobby.