Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 17:32 UK

A parliamentary bisque is permission to miss a vote or debate in the Commons to attend to constituency business or other research tasks.

The bisque system is operated at the discretion of the whips who decide which MPs can miss less significant debates and votes without being paired.

The pairing system does not work in the present Parliament because the government has significantly more MPs than the opposition.

The bisque system gained currency after the 1983 general election, and again in the Parliament of 1987-1992, when the Conservatives enjoyed a large majority.

The term originates in the game of croquet and the practise of allowing a weaker player a free go.

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