Blighty's Parliament prescribed tablets to cope with future votes

Surface tension added to crucial debates

The UK Parliament – the Mother of Parliaments – is treating itself to a slice of modern technology: its votes will be counted with the help of computer tablets.

The overhaul is due "in the very near future", Therese Coffey, deputy leader of the UK House of Commons, announced today in response to a question by Labour MP Meg Hillier.

When a vote is held in the House of Commons, the Speaker asks members to call out if they agree or not. If the result is unclear, the Speaker calls a division. MPs in the chamber file out to enter the "aye" or "no" lobbies, and there they are joined by members who were working or drinking elsewhere and have been summoned to vote by the division bell.

Names of MPs shuffling through the lobbies are recorded by clerks and counted by tellers, who are MPs not participating in the vote. The division can be a bit of a scrum.

Now Parliamentary officials will use tablets to count up the votes after MPs walk through into the separate chambers. The devices in question? Microsoft Surface slabs.

"The teller system will still be used to count members. The use of tablets will, however, make it easier and quicker to provide the results of divisions," a House of Commons spokesperson told us. ®

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the role of the Surface tablets.

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