Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Whiteford Highlights SNP Call for Electronic Voting as House of Commons Wastes Six Days in Divisions This Year

Member of the Westminster Parliament for Banff & Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford, has highlighted the SNP’s renewed call for the UK Parliament to introduce electronic voting after new House of Commons Library figures revealed that MPs have wasted six working days voting since the general election.

A request from the SNP revealed that there had been almost two hundred divisions in the House of Commons in 2014/15. While votes in the Scottish Parliament are electronic and take a matter of seconds, votes at Westminster require up to 650 MPs to funnel through packed voting lobbies taking around 15 to 20 minutes per division.

According to the same Library figures, in the last parliament there were 1096 divisions – meaning between 2010-15 MPs spent around 34 working days voting.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The Scottish Parliament has been using electronic voting since 1999. It’s a sign of how antiquated Westminster traditions continue to be that a voting process which should only take a matter of seconds instead results in MPs literally wasting days trooping through the voting lobbies when that time would be much better spent representing our constituents and tackling the issues that impact on their lives.

“When you consider that on complex legislation there can be multiple votes it can significantly reduce debating time; either that or it takes away time when MPs could be dealing with casework, meeting with organisations on behalf of constituents and progressing the issues that matter to people.

“Electronic voting has been shown to work in Scotland, Wales and in parliaments around the world – but the House of Commons’ reluctance to modernise its outmoded procedures is part of the reason that parliament is far from family friendly and continues to be considered alien and remote by the public.

“As anyone who has ever worked in a business – or any other organisation – knows retaining practices simply because ‘this is the way we have always done it’ is not the route to success. We could get through far more business in parliament if Westminster would accept that we live in the 21st century, not the 17th.

“As we move towards the start of 2016, it’s well and truly time to create a modern Parliament that is fit for a modern democracy.”
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