Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — New Clause 7 — Reduction of maximum number of Ministers —rejected — 25 Oct 2010 at 21:45

The majority of MPs voted against reducing the maximum number of Ministers permitted in proportion with a proposed reduction in the size of the House of Commons.

Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne, proposed adding a new clause to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which would have stated:

  • The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 is amended as follows.
  • (2) For section 2(1) substitute-
  • "(1) The number of holders of offices specified in Schedule 2 to this Act (in this section referred to as Ministerial offices) entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons at any one time, whether paid or unpaid, must not exceed 95 if the number of constituencies in the United Kingdom is 650.".
  • (3) After section 2(1) insert-
  • "(1A) If the number of constituencies in the United Kingdom decreases below 650, the limit on the number of holders of Ministerial offices entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons referred to in section 2(1) must be decreased by at least a proportionate amount.".
  • (4) In subsection (2), after "subsection (1)", insert "or subsection (1A)

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith spoke in favour of the proposal saying[2]:

  • We have heard over the past few days and weeks very strong arguments for equalising the size of constituencies and reducing the number of MPs, but to do that without also reducing the number of Ministers would profoundly undermine the authority of Parliament. The proposal is not radical, or even a solution to the problem that so many hon. Members have identified. It would neither minimise the power of the Executive nor increase that of the legislature. It merely calls for a reduction in the size of Government in line with the planned cuts to the number of Members of Parliament. In effect, it will do no more than prevent trends from getting worse.

Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat David Heath was left to explain the Government's current opposition to the proposal, he did so without much passion and while expressing "sympathy with the view of Mr Walker"[3], the MP who had introduced the new clause.

Mr Heath's main reason for rejecting the clause was explained when he said[4]:

  • "I do not think that there is a simple arithmetical relationship between the number of Ministers in the Government and the number of Members in this House".

Mr Heath suggested that while he and his Government didn't support the reduction in the number of Ministers at that moment, he indicated they might in the future as he said[5]:

  • "...various elements of our proposals for reform of the constitutional arrangements and for the politics of this country are moving forward in various pieces of legislation and at various times. By the end of this Parliament, they will be in place, but this is not the right time for this measure."

During debate Mr Walker, the MP proposing the change, noted that reducing the number of Ministers by eight would save £4 million pounds[6]. It should be noted though that his proposal would have not prevented the Prime Minster from appointing additional Ministers from outside of the Commons.

Debate in Parliament | Source |

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Alliance0 10100.0%
Con242 (+1 tell) 20386.9%
DUP0 7087.5%
Green0 10100.0%
Lab0 200 (+2 tell)078.3%
LDem48 (+1 tell) 1087.7%
PC0 1033.3%
SDLP0 1033.3%
SNP0 60100.0%
Total:290 238383.2%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

Steven BakerWycombeConaye
Peter BoneWellingboroughCon (front bench)aye
Graham BradyAltrincham and Sale WestCon (front bench)aye
Douglas CarswellClactonConaye
Christopher ChopeChristchurchCon (front bench)aye
Philip DaviesShipleyCon (front bench)aye
Michael EllisNorthampton NorthCon (front bench)aye
Mark FieldCities of London and WestminsterCon (front bench)aye
Zac GoldsmithRichmond ParkCon (front bench)aye
James GrayNorth WiltshireCon (front bench)aye
Philip HolloboneKetteringCon (front bench)aye
Bernard JenkinHarwich and North EssexCon (front bench)aye
Anne MainSt AlbansCon (front bench)aye
David NuttallBury NorthCon (front bench)aye
Mark RecklessRochester and StroodCon (front bench)aye
Peter TapsellLouth and HorncastleCon (front bench)aye
Andrew TurnerIsle of WightCon (front bench)aye
Andrew TyrieChichesterCon (front bench)aye
Martin VickersCleethorpesConaye
Charles WalkerBroxbourneCon (front bench)aye
Jason McCartneyColne ValleyConboth
Andrew PercyBrigg and GooleCon (front bench)both
Craig WhittakerCalder ValleyCon (front bench)both
Adrian SandersTorbayLDemaye

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