Galloway attended fewest votes in last Commons session

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Indy Politics

George Galloway, the independent MP expelled from the Labour Party over the war in Iraq, turned up to fewer Commons votes than any other backbencher in the last parliamentary session.

The Glasgow Kelvin MP, who is planning to launch a new left-of-centre political party to contend next year's European elections, took part in only 14 per cent of divisions or votes in the session, which ended in November.

Even Ruth Kelly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury who took several months off to have a baby, managed to vote more often than Mr Galloway.

However, when Cabinet ministers are taken into account in the league table, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown finished in lower positions than the rebel MP.

Tory and Labour critics of the Prime Minister's failure to treat Parliament seriously are bound to seize on the fact that Mr Blair took part in just 9 per cent of votes. The Chancellor fared slightly better, attending 12.6 per cent of votes.

The figures were compiled from Hansard, the official parliamentary record, for a website, www.publicwhip.org.uk. Other notable names also appear at the lower end of the table. Perhaps surprisingly, Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House, voted in around 45 per cent of divisions. Michael Portillo, the former challenger for the Conservative leadership, is also in a mid-table position with around 42 per cent. Gwyneth Dunwoody, the independent-minded Labour chairwoman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, took part in 25 per cent of votes.

Mr Galloway, whose attendance in parliament has plummeted to just 2 per cent since he was expelled by the Labour Party, gave a stout defence of his record. "I haven't voted for a long time because I have been on the road. In the past 16 months I have spoken at more than 500 public meetings," he told The Independent. "I have taken my politics on to the road and I think that is rather more productive than voting in the House of Commons, to be frank."

Mr Dalyell said that one of the main reasons his attendance looked so low was that as a Scottish MP, he held a principle of not voting on legislation that affected only England. He also said that he was kept busy with his duties as Rector of Edinburgh University and had sometimes abstained if he objected to a Bill.

"If the Government had a majority of less than 50, then of course I would be voting more. But frankly some of the other work MPs do is more important than whether the Government gets a majority of 163 or 164," Mr Dalyell said. "George Galloway has done a public meeting virtually every night in recent months. I have done a lot myself. I do think there are very few lazy MPs."

Most MPs at the top of the voting table are Government whips or tellers, but one backbencher with a high attendance was Colin Pickthall, MP for Lancashire West.

Mr Pickthall said the fact that some hardworking MPs, such as Ms Dunwoody, came near the bottom proved the need to change Commons hours back to include late-night sittings. Many committee chairmen complained that their sessions had been disrupted by daytime votes since the hours were reformed.

Nick Ainger, Labour MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, was the most diligent voter, attending 94.6 per cent of divisions.

MISSING THE DIVISION - THE BOTTOM 20 AND THEIR ATTENDANCE PERCENTAGES

Angela Smith Lab/Co-op 33.6%
Rt Hon Stephen DorrellCon3 3.3%
Hon Michael TrendCon 32.8%
Alex SalmondS NP 31.8%
Gregory Campbell DU 30.8%
Michael Mates Con 30.3%
Rt Hon David Trimble UU 29.7%
Ruth Kelly Lab 29.2%
Rt Hon Brian Wilson Lab 29%
Jane Kennedy Lab 28.5%
Jeffrey M Donaldson while Ind UU 27.2%
Rt Hon David Blunkett Lab 26.4%
Gwyneth Dunwoody Lab 25.1%
Ian Paisley DU 23.6%
Rt Hon Clare Short Lab 19.5%
Rt Hon Jack Straw Lab 19.5%
Nigel Jones LDem 17.7%
George Galloway, while Lab 14%
Rt Hon Gordon Brown Lab 12.6%
Rt Hon Tony Blair Lab 9%

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