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MPs Have "Wasted Six Working Days" Casting Votes Since The General Election

The SNP has called for a new electronic voting system after research suggested MPs have wasted days voting in the traditional way.

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The Scottish National Party has called for the introduction of electronic voting in the House of Commons after its own research indicated MPs have wasted six working days casting votes since the general election.

MPs currently vote in parliament by walking through "aye" or "no" corridors, known as "lobbies", which typically takes around 15 minutes each time a division is called.

Although the Commons library does not record the exact amount of time each division takes, research carried out by an SNP MP – using 15 minutes as an average – suggests that a total of six working days since this year's election have been spent going through the lobbies.

The same research showed that as many as 34 working days may have been spent on voting during the last parliament between 2010-15.

The SNP MP for Livingston, Hannah Bardell, said the "antiquated" Westminster parliament must scrap the traditional voting system and adopt an electronic system similar to the one which has been in place at the Scottish parliament since it was created in 1999.

"It's a sign of how antiquated Westminster traditions continue to be that a voting process which should only take a matter of seconds instead results in MPs wasting days trooping through the lobbies when that time would be much better spent representing our constituents and tackling the issues that impact on their lives," said the MP.

"Electronic voting has been shown to work in Scotland, Wales, and in parliaments around the world – but the House of Commons' reluctance to modernise its outmoded procedures is part of the reason that parliament is far from family friendly and continues to be considered alien and remote by the public."

Electronic voting was considered by parliament in 1998 and Robin Cook, the leader of the House after the 2001 election, supported the introduction of a new, quicker system. However, no single alternative to the existing lobby system has ever gained widespread support from MPs.

A parliament briefing paper on the subject from 2013 said the current system had broad backing and that many MPs saw it as "an essential opportunity to speak to or lobby senior colleagues, whom they may not see at any other time".

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

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