How Can Anybody Trust This Parliament?

One of my regular rants about the European Parliament is that it is almost entirely unaccountable. Over 80% of the votes are by show of hands, thus there are no possible records as to how people vote. This in turn means that the electorate have no way of knowing what their MEP has done, and cannot judge them on their actions.

Remember what they vote on becomes law. And breach of laws created here in Brussels can be prosecuted with prison and/or fines. Therefore it would be nice to think that the votes are accurately counted.

Yesterday this happened,

“During voting on a report by Mr. Kaczmarek on EU partnership in the Horn of Africa, amendment No. 5 was declared ‘Rejected’ by the chairman Vidal-Quadras, having assessed the show of hands ‘for’ and ‘against’ the amendment.
The call for an electronic check revealed that it had actually been APPROVED by no less than 567 votes to 17 (with 18 abstentions).
He blamed the MEPs for ‘not holding their hands high enough’!
I close my case.”

This came from Graham Booth, UKIP MEP for the South Western Counties who has been running a campaign to have every single voted electronically counted (What we call RCV – Roll Call Vote). When he wrote to the president of Parliament he was told that to count the votes would, first take too long, after all many members have flights to catch. Better still it was pointed out that they would also miss their lunches.


Like many things in the British system what we have is a rather antiquated system by which the MPs walk through doors into seperate Rooms, the Aye Lobby and the Nay Lobby.

It may seem rather quirky, but the key point here is that it works, and the electorate can find out how their elected member votes.

That, in a represenatative democracy ensures that the reprsentatives are accountable.

Their names are recorded, and the result is then read out at the despatch box.

Of course when you look at the use of the Royal perogative, guillotines and other such stuff there are huge problems with much of what goes on there agreed, but voting is fair clear and comprehensible.

Elaib Harvey

Westminster ?

Hand-up works as well as the Aye/Nay system.
You probably know that all fractions get their voting instructions well before the effective voting procedure and the number of yes/no voters are well known and accounted for. This means that both systems are just for the show and none of them is more or less sure or comprehensible than the other.

unaccountable parliaments

Schaveiger wrote: "You probably know that all fractions get their voting instructions well before the effective voting procedure and the number of yes/no voters are well known and accounted for."

Maybe the political whips know in advance how many votes they will get in support of a bill, but the parliament should keep a record of every vote that has been taken.
There is the same problem in france. Here is how I became aware of the problem: a law was voted in 1992 declaring that "THE language of THE republic is French". It was supposed to be aimed against the use of English (in songs, ads, etc), but it has been invoked to hinder the teaching of the Breton language in schools. Last year, a (new) attempt was made to add an amendment to the law. The phrase "in the respect of france's other languages" was to be added. But the amendment was rejected (once again). I would have liked to know who voted against the amendment, but it seems that no one knows !

Usually, members of the french parliament vote by raising their hands, or by standing up or remaining seated. The chairman makes a global evaluation and declares the result. There isn't a precise tally, unless it is a tight contest or the law is particularly important.

My conclusion: the EU is no worse than france.

How the french system works (in french).