HC Deb 14 April 1965 vol 710 cc1416-8
Mr. Maxwell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the House knows, we had today several Divisions on the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill and a great many of our constituents would like to know, from their evening papers today or on the radio, how hon. Members voted. As matters stand at present, our constituents are unable to know this until the following day.

You may not be aware that, in another place yesterday, after the crucial Division on the War Damage Bill, the voting list was made available to the Press within 15 minutes of the result of the Division being announced. I ask you to consider whether the rule of your department could not be altered so that the Press is able to receive copies of our Division lists after they have been checked by your department and when, in the normal way, they are passed to HANSARD.

This would be of great value to the Press correspondents, who, because of our rules, cannot be sure how hon. Members have voted until the day after the Division. Under the present system, they have to peer down from the Press Gallery through the doors of the Chamber to try to recognise hon. Members as they come out of the Table Office. At that distance many errors of identification are possible and sometimes hon. Members have had cause to complain.

I suggest that, in a democratic assembly, it is right that our constituents should know as soon as possible how we have voted on any issue. I realise that you may not be able to rule on this at once, but I should be grateful if you will consider it and give us your Ruling later.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that you will recollect that, when the House sits after 10.30 p.m., Division lists are not published for 36 hours. In deference to the staff of the House and to others involved, I suggest that this point should be taken into account in your consideration.

Mr. Speaker

I must confess that the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) astonishes me. The portrait of our constituents staying awake by night because they cannot see, until the morning paper, how we voted, strikes me as being slightly novel. I am not quite sure what practical possibilities are involved here, but I will look at the matter and, of course, I will bear in mind the convenience of our officers too, as I must.

Mr. Maxwell

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This rule has been in existence since the seventeenth century,

Mr. Speaker

Order. I promised to look at it in the twentieth century. I think that we should now get on with business.