John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, November 06, 2005
  Reconciling Division 74
One interesting aspect of Division 74 was that Hansard's list of names and the tellers' count differed by 2 votes on the ayes.

When MPs vote they first walk into rooms around the North (Aye) and South (No) of the chamber of the House of Commons. Then they walk out of those rooms. As they walk through the doors out of the rooms (lobbys) they are counted by "tellers".

There are two tellers on each exit. One supports aye and the other supports no so there are four tellers in all.

Inside the lobbys there are people sitting at three high desks with lists of names and they tick of the names of MPs as they walk past them.

Clearly you can count the name listed as well as count the people leaving the rooms.

Your party gets stressed if you don't vote with it. That can result in all sorts of sanctions the strongest of which is removing the whip and, therefore, potentially preventing you from standing with the party at the next general election. (cf Howard Flight).

The question, of course, on this was where are the two other votes. Were there two MPs who managed to vote without getting their names recorded? Alternatively did the tellers manage to count extra people.

It is interesting also that the Ulster Unionist voted with the Government, but that the DUP voted against.

Ten Conservatives didn't vote (one more than the 9 I had been told of and not all of them were paired). George Galloway didn't vote. 21 Labour MPs didn't vote (including one minister), 2 Lib Dems didn't vote. Two SDLP didn't vote (one did against the government), the Five SF members never vote. 32 Labour MPs voted against the government (including the two tellers for aye who didn't actually vote per se, but were tellers)

This shows the vulnerability of the Labour majority as there are an easy (9+1+2+2) 14 more votes that can be found against the government.

The question now is how hard the Labour whips now go around twisting arms for next week.

The point about Labour's majority is that one should ignore the votes from Sinn Fein because they never turn up and, therefore, their majority is more like 71 than 66.
 
Comments:
Perhaps we should fit all MPs with RFID tags and the voting rooms with readers to avoid such discrepancies in the future? Having been a teller at large meetings (ranging from a hunderd or so up to a couple of thousand) I do know how easy it is to make a mistake.

I am given to understand that many enterprises (both public and private sector) are considering or even implementing such systems to track their employees and monitor such things as toilet breaks.
 
The vote by Lady Hermon (Ulster Unionist) seems especially strange since she actually voted against the entire bill at second reading.
 
George Galloway didn't vote???? That's a bit of a disappointment if you are a Respect voter , isn't it?
 
He was earning money (he says for Respect) in Cork at the time.
 
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