9 Ayes lobby
View of the Ayes lobby of the House of Representatives. On the opposite side of the chamber is the Noes lobby.
Voting in Parliament
Parliament makes decisions on motions (proposals) put before it. A formal vote occurs when members want to test majority support for the Government, delay proceedings, or record their views.
Until 1996, division bells signalled a formal vote. Members not in the debating chamber had to return before the doors were locked. (Sometimes the keys were temporarily 'mislaid' so that latecomers could make it back!) Members recorded their votes in the Ayes (for) or Noes (against) lobbies. The Speaker then announced the result, and the doors were unlocked.
Now, members don't have to be present for most votes. Parties usually declare their total votes, including those of absent members. Personal votes are an exception and still require attendance in the debating chamber.