Whips

Whips are mps or members of the lords appointed by each party to maintain discipline.

Whips encourage members of their party to vote in the way that their party would like in important divisions. Whilst it is only part of their role it is an important one and will be the case unless their political party have made it known that they will allow a free vote meaning that party leaders allow individual members to vote according to their own beliefs and not according to the party line.

Whips will act as tellers during divisions and make sure that party members are aware of how their party expects them to vote unless there is a free vote. MP absences can arise however and in these situations the Whips manage what is known as the pairing system.

Pairing is an arrangement between two MPs of opposing parties not to 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 organised by the House of Commons itself but by the Whips on behalf of their respective political parties. There may be times when a party does not allow pairing in which case an MP may be expected to leave their sick bed in order to vote.

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