What is a Whip?
A whip is a Member who acts as an administrator and organiser for his or her political party in Parliament. All parties in Parliament have whips in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
What does a whip do?
Whips have duties in the Chamber, but most
of their time is taken up with party activities.
In relation to the business of the House, the whips:
- work out with Members who will speak in debates and
- make sure that Members are present in the House for
divisions and quorums,
organise ‘pairs’ for absent Members, and
- are often appointed by the Speaker as tellers to count
the votes during divisions.
Outside the Chamber, the whips are
organisers for their political parties. They:
- advise and coordinate party committees,
- arrange nominations for party and parliamentary committees,
- organise party balloting.
The origins of the office of the whip
The term ‘whip’ originated
in the aristocratic English pastime of fox-hunting. The person who
kept the hounds together
in the pack was called the ‘whipper-in’.
The expression was first used in the UK House of Commons
in 1769 by politician
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) to describe the way Members
were lobbied by their fellow parliamentarians.