28th November 2013: Last week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons and his two researchers had to wade through a mountain of reports and documents before deciding how to vote on the hundreds of resolutions on the week's packed agenda.
In many cases the MEP's office is notified of amendments just hours in advance of the vote, so decisions already made on which way to vote have to be adjusted.
Andrew summed up the pressure that MEPs, and especially the non-attached MEPs, are under in a speech in his Constitutional Affairs Committee this week.
"When our Vice President, Mr Papastamkos, collapsed during the plenary session in March, President Schulz remarked with unusual frankness that most MEPs did not know what they voting on (in the long legislative session that had extended over two hours). This is because amendments and voting lists change at the last moment.
"This happens not only in the plenary sessions. It happened in AFCO during the morning session in the October plenary (on the 24th October). I waited for the voting list to appear during the previous evening but it had not arrived by 8.30 pm so I left. I discovered the next morning that it had not arrived until 11.45 pm. I had marked how I would vote on the reports but those votes had to be transcribed quickly onto the voting list with the help of one of my assistants. The vote started before the transcription was complete. I noticed one MEP who had tabled a number of amendments was not voting for his own amendments, clearly because he was unable to recognise them.
"Voting should be informed and rational. Most votes are neither.
"I notice the leaders of the large groups signalling to their members how they should vote, without any possibility that the MEPs understand what they are being asked to do."