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Mike Wood: I benefited from pairing arrangements on a number of occasions last year. I do not have a clue which Opposition Members I was paired with, or whether any of those pairs were broken. Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the pairing system generally works very well for many people who need a pair—whether because of serious illness, parental leave or bereavement leave—and most of our constituents, once they know the facts, do actually understand why some of us may miss votes for a period?
David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
We all remember when my hon. Friend was seriously unwell and had to be absent from the House for a time. He, like many others in all political parties over the years, has benefited from the informal arrangements that the Whips Offices of the different parties have negotiated on pairing. In the furore over events last week, it is important that we do not lose sight of the important tool that the pairing system offers in relation to effective pastoral care for right hon. and hon. Members.