Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, asked an urgent question in the House of Commons on Monday 23 July 2018, in relation to Government policy and practice with regard to pairing arrangements, especially as they relate to Members on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
Pairing is an arrangement between two MPs of opposing parties to not vote in a particular division. This enables an MP to be absent without affecting the result of the vote as they effectively cancel each other out. Pairing is an informal arrangement which is not recognised by the House of Commons but must be registered with the Whips.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, responded on behalf of the Government stated that policy on pairing remains that these are long-standing informal arrangements between business managers in different political parties in this House, co-ordinated through the usual channels.
He went on to confirm that a general debate on proxy voting is scheduled for September 2018 and that it would be an opportunity for Members to discuss in greater detail what changes might be made to ensure that Members on both sides of the House are supported through periods of absence.
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