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Parliamentary procedure and the youth parliament

John O Shea has written about the events of Monday night. It is worth understanding some aspects of this issue.

There is a small group of MPs (numbering about 20-25) who don't think the Youth parliament should be allowed to meet once a year in the House of Commons Chamber.

There is an interesting question behind this as to whether the reducing respect for institutions is partially affected by the reducing respect for the fabric of the buildings in which the institutions are sited or indeed the obverse. My own personal view, however, is that like having the proceedings in The House reported, on the radio and televised and similar to allowing tours of The House - having the Youth Parliament meet in the chamber (when it is not used) is a good thing not a bad thing.

The debate was after 10pm so it needed a vote to allow it to proceed. The decision, however, was a deferred division and would be cast on paper (a pink slip) on wednesday's after Prime Ministers question time.

The key point, however, is that if during the debate there was a vote and below the quorum of MPs (40) voted then the motion would fall and not be considered in a deferred division.

To move a closure motion, however, requires at least 100 MPs voting for closure. (A closure motion is where the house votes that the question be now put - it closes down debate.)

I went home at about 11.30pm having been told that a closure motion would not be moved, but as Philip Davies droned on through the night it was decided to move a closure motion. Luckily enough people had remained on the estate to pass it.

The divisions were:
To have the debatefor: 139 against: 10
Closure for: 103 against: 3
Yesterday's deferred division on whether or not to allow the youth parliament to meet was 499 to 21. It is in Hansard here

There are a couple of interesting further points about the closure division. Whereas it is listed as being 103 to 3, in fact there are only 102 names listed as voting aye. Furthermore the three that voted no also voted aye. This is a "both" which is effectively an abstention. Without their votes and if the list of names reconciled with the number counted then in fact the closure motion would have fallen.

The rules are that it is the tellers count that matters not the list of names. It is entirely possible for someone to vote without being listed on the list of names. At the same time the tellers can also miscount. (That is why there are two tellers doing the count on each lobby, one for the ayes and one for the noes - normally the government whips do the counting and the opposition do the checking).

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

Here, the magistrates’ clerk retired with the bench when they were considering a charge of dangerous driving. The clerk belonged to a firm of solicitors acting in civil proceedings for the other party to the accident. It was entirely irrelevant that there had been no evidence of actual influence brought to bear on the magistrates, and the conviction was duly quashed.

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