Procedures in the Lords are different to those in the Commons, not least in term of the rules governing votes. For example, if an MP votes in both lobbies during a division, his or her name is shown in the division list as being in both lobbies. Voting in both lobbies has become a way for MPs to show that they are present but, in effect, abstaining. If a peer votes in both lobbies, the peer’s name is removed from the division list. There was a recent case of this happening – Hansard records when a peer has had their name removed, but without identifying who it is. Given that, there is little point in going into both lobbies and it rarely happens.
There are also notable differences in the event of a tied vote. The basic difference is that in the Commons the Speaker has a casting vote, whereas in the Lords the Lord Speaker, or occupant of the Woolsack, does not. In the Commons, the Speaker can formally exercise a casting vote as he thinks fit, but in practice follows precedent built up over two centuries. The Speaker votes for further discussion, unless no further discussion is possible in which case he votes against. On an amendment to a Bill, he votes to leave the Bill in its existing form. In the Lords, the basic principle is that a motion requires a majority to carry. If the vote is tied, there is no majority for the motion and it is lost. This afternoon, the House divided 245-245 on a motion to substitute another amendment for one made by the Commons to the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. As there was no majority for the motion, the Deputy Speaker read out a form of words stipulated by Standing Order announcing that the amendment was not insisted on.
One other difference, less commented upon, is the fact that in the Commons, MPs bow to the tellers as they go by. In the Lords, one does not do so. Old habits die hard. In a division in the Lords, one can normally tell which peers are ex-MPs!