HC Deb 11 July 1905 vol 149 cc268-9

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he has considered the time occupied by divisions taken under the present system; and whether he will appoint a Committee to consider whether a saving of time can be effected by mechanical means of recording votes, to the relief also of the discomfort to Members during divisions.


The length of time taken by divisions, and the amount thus substracted from discussion, has forced itself upon the attention of the Government, and I am sure it has forced itself upon the attention of every Gentleman in this House. But nobody has yet suggested a practical scheme for modifying it, and I do not think the mechanical methods adopted in foreign Assemblies would be practicable in this House, where Members have not got fixed seats, and where there are obvious difficulties to be overcome which are not met with in the Chambers of which I speak. Certainly the time taken by divisions is a factor which cannot be left out of account by those interested in the progress of business and who prefer discussion to walking through the lobbies. Although I cannot afford hope, nor make any suggestion on the subject, it may be that the time will come when some ingenious person will find a solution of the real difficulties to which my hon. friend has called attention.


Is it not desirable that some inquiry should beheld? Assuming that each division occupies a quarter of an hour, there is a waste of ten days of Parliamentary time in the course of a session.


I trust that, whatever happens, the Prime Minister will not listen to any suggestion from the hon. Gentleman opposite for the use of motor-cars.


I must say I wish there was less interference with the speed limit in the matter of divisions. When my hon. friend points out that divisions tike ten days of Parliamentary time, it is well to remember that was the exact amount given to the whole of the legislation of the Government at the time when I moved my Motion last week.


That is no credit to your leadership.

MR. MILDMAY (Devonshire, Totnes)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether he would consider the possibility of reverting to the method of taking divisions which was introduced under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon some years ago.


I have not refreshed my memory as to the details of my right hon. friend's proposal; but, as far as I remember, there were found to be practical difficulties in its working, and I should be sorry to commit myself to it without further examination.