Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 15:57 UK
Divisions

When debate on a question in Parliament is concluded, the question is put to the House.

A to Z: Divisions

The Speaker, Lord Speaker or chairman does this by rising from the Chair saying: "the question is..." followed by whatever the motion says.

Members are then asked to vote.

In the Commons, MPs call out "Aye", if they are for the motion and "No" if they are against it.

In the Lords, those that agree with the motion say "Content" and those who do not say "Not content".

The Speaker, Lord Speaker or chairman then judges who has won the vote according to which side has responded with the loudest shouts.

If this conclusion is contested by the defeated group, or if the outcome is unclear, then a division is called.

In the Commons, the Speaker instructs members to "clear the Lobby" and in the Lords, peers are told to "clear the bar".

The Division Bells then ring for two minutes throughout the parliamentary estate in buildings, offices, pubs, restaurants and even in some MPs' homes in the Westminster area, to let parliamentarians know that a vote is taking place.

They have eight minutes to get into the Chamber before it is locked.

MPs register their formal vote by queuing up and giving their name to a Teller in either the Aye Lobby or the No Lobby.

The lobbies are situated behind the government and opposition sides of the chamber respectively. Tellers are Whips chosen in rotation to count the votes at a Division.

The Lords chamber has a similar arrangement of lobbies but here they are called the Content Lobby and the Not-content Lobby.

Peers register their formal votes by entering their chosen lobby from either end of the chamber, Contents by the throne and the Not-contents by the bar of the House.

Following a division in either House the Tellers approach the Clerk's table and the result is read out by the winning side.

The result is then read again in confirmation by the Speaker, Lord Speaker or chairman before business resumes.




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