Friday 18 December 2015

The Eyes Have It, The Eyes Have It

Whose face are we talking about? The eyes to the right and the nose to the left.

This is what comes to mind when hearing the Speaker of the House of Commons announcing the result of a debate.

"The ayes to the right, 397. The nos to the left, 223. The ayes have it, the ayes have it." Speaker of the House John Bercow announced.

Surely there has to be a better way to announce results? Of course there is (yea and nay) ... but no one likes to break from British tradition (see The Debater's Handbook and voice vote). This is why we still hear "eyes" and "nose" at debates, instead of yeas and nays.

The Debater's Handbook

The vote is taken by acclamation, by raising the hand, by rising, by ballot, or by yeas and nays. Except in matters of very great importance, the vote should be taken by acclamation, raising the hand, or rising, as those methods consume but little time.

Voting by rising, or raising the hand, differs from voting by acclamation only in that the members are asked to rise or raise the hand, instead of saying aye or no. Voting by ballot on a motion consists in the members writing yes or no, as the desire may be, on a slip of paper, which papers are then collected by some person appointed by the President for that purpose. When the slips have been collected, the President reads aloud what is written on them, while the Secretary, acting as teller of the votes, makes a record of those favoring and of those opposing. When all of the ballots have been counted, the Secretary reports the result of the voting to the President, who announces it to the assembly. Whenever there is a desire for it, the President may appoint tellers. When this is done, one should be selected from each party or side of the question. After the reading of each ballot by the President, one of the tellers should respond by repeating what the President has read, and by stating aloud the number of ballots of that kind then counted. In large assemblies it frequently will be found best to have the members come to the President's desk to deposit their ballots. The President, speaking aloud the name of the voter, takes the ballot and places it in the ballot-box. The Secretary pronounces the name again, and records it. This method will frequently prevent fraudulent votes. Voting by ballot on candidates for election differs from the above only in that the name of the candidate is written on the slip instead of yes or no.

Voting by yeas and nays consists in the Secretary calling from the roll the names of the members, and their responding by yea or nay.

Any member may change his vote, except when the vote, was taken by ballot; but he must do so before the decision has been announced by the Chair.


As soon as the President learns from the Secretary how many voted for, and how many against the motion, he should say, "There are favoring, and opposing. The motion is carried," Or lost, as the case may be. When voting by acclamation, he says, "The ayes (or noes) have it," etc.

In voting on nominations, the Secretary records the number of votes cast for each candidate, the whole number cast, and the number necessary for a choice. The Secretary usually reads these numbers aloud at the request of the President. In case of an election, the President announces the result by saying, "Mr. having received the requisite number of votes, is elected Speaker," or whatever the office may be. If no one is elected, he says, "There is no election." 


UK Approves Airstrikes In Syria

The country is already conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.

By Kate Grumke | December 2, 2015

"The ayes to the right, 397. The nos to the left, 223. The ayes have it, the ayes have it." Speaker of the House John Bercow announced.

British Members of Parliament just approved airstrikes in Syria, joining an effort by France, the U.S. and Russia, among other countries.

The vote was 397 to 223.

A majority of Conservatives were in favor of the airstrikes.

Members of the Labour Party, headed by Jeremy Corbyn, were split over whether or not to launch airstrikes. Despite his strong opposition to military intervention, Corbyn decided not to try to rally Labour members of Parliament to vote against the airstrikes.

The U.K. will continue its airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and provide material support to anti-ISIS rebels in both Iraq and Syria.

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