Free vote

A free vote is used when mps and members of the house of lords vote on issues of conscience.

Party whips manage parliamentary business and one of their roles is to ensure that as many of their party members as possible vote and that their votes reflect the opinions of their party. In the case of a free vote MPs and peers are not under instruction from their parties' whips and they are free to vote how they want.

Free votes are used on issues of conscience when moral, ethical or religious questions are raised. Free votes are normally used to include such things as capital punishment or Sunday trading, however a free vote was not used when MPs voted on the suspension of Sunday trading laws during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. In this case Labour allowed its MPs a free vote but Conservative MPs were compelled to vote for the emergency legislation.

Union urges Sunday trading rethink | UK | News | Daily Express

Gay marriage: MPs back bill despite Conservative backbench - BBC

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