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Whips are appointed in both Houses by each party in Parliament. They are responsible, together with the Leader and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, for arranging business in Parliament. In this role, they are often referred to as the ‘usual channels’.

The main role of the Chief Whip is to get the Government’s business through Parliament, aiming to ensure a government majority in votes on its legislative and policy programme.

Whips frequently act as tellers – counting votes in a division and announcing the results. In the Commons, they manage the pairing system, enabling Members to be absent without affecting the result by pairing up with an MP from an opposition party.

In the House of Lords, the team of government whips speak at the despatch box, representing departments not otherwise represented in the House by Ministers.

The downloadable Excel file lists Government Chief Whips and Deputy Chief Whips since 1945. Source details are available in the Excel file.

Parliament: facts and figures  

The Parliament: facts and figures series covers topics including elections, government, legislation, Members and parliamentary business. 

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