Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 15:26 UK

Free vote

In a free vote, MPs and peers are allowed to vote as they wish and are not under instruction from their parties' whips.

Free votes are most often granted on issues of conscience, such as capital punishment, Sunday trading or abortion.

On a free vote Parliament often divides across, rather than along, party lines and members from different political parties find themselves voting in the same lobbies.

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