You can vote for or against a question by shouting “Aye” or “No” when the Speaker puts the question to the House and then walking through the Aye or the No lobby on either side of the Chamber. A vote that’s conducted in this way is called a division.
During a division, the bells ring and the annunciators (the monitors around the parliamentary estate) display a green bell. You have eight minutes to get to the lobbies to vote before the doors are locked.
When looking from the Speaker’s Chair, the Aye lobby is to the right, and the No lobby is to the left. To vote, go into the lobby you want: use the entrance behind the Speaker’s Chair for the Aye lobby, the entrance at the opposite end of the Chamber to the Speaker’s Chair for the No lobby, or the doors from each side of the Chamber.
Clerks in each lobby record the names of those voting. Give your name to the clerk even if you think they know who you are. There are also two tellers (often whips) in each lobby to record the number of those voting. Pause in the doorway to let them record your vote.
The Speaker announces the result of the division as soon as it’s over. The CommonsVotes app provides a full list of who voted about 15 to 20 minutes later. Division lists are also available in Hansard online within 2 to 3 hours, and to collect from the Vote Office the following day.
Keep in touch with whips for expected division times, which are not always predictable.
A minimum of 40 MPs, including the Chair and the tellers, are required for a division to be valid.
There’s no way to record an abstention.
In certain circumstances, divisions can be deferred until the following Wednesday.
Contact an expert
Clerk of Divisions, Public Bill Office
- Email: PBOHoC@parliament.uk
- Extension: 4921