Thursday, 31 January 2019

division bell

We’d heard the term of course from the Pink Floyd album but hadn’t realised what the eponymous title referred to until encountering this helpful civics lesson from Atlas Obscura.
In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly is a more formal way of gauging the consent or non-consent of the house on an item—especially when a issue is contentious or demands a super-majority. By house rules, once a vote is challenged, members have eight minutes and not a moment more to return to their respective lobbies (sides) and cast their ballots or lose their chance to weigh in on the matter. Most of the alarms are within the halls of the Palace of Westminster itself—also signalling the start of the start of the session (the House sits)—but as proceedings, speeches and debate can be a drawn out affair, exterior restaurants, public houses and clubs in the vicinity are also outfitted with division bells to recall members who might be taking a personal recess. Sort of like referring to the Beltway as the figurative boundary separating Washington, DC from the rest of America, the geography of the division bells stakes out the Westminster’s bubble.