'Beyond a farce' Government to table motion meaning MPs must vote in person

1 June 2020, 12:06

The Commons leader will chair the motion on Monday
The Commons leader will chair the motion on Monday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg will table a motion on Monday setting out the need for MPs to vote in person again during the ongoing coronavirus disruption.

Currently, MPs are sitting in a "hybrid" Parliament - with some members in the chamber and others connected via video link allowing up to 50 MPs inside the chamber, sitting apart from each other in line with coronavirus social distancing guidelines

Critics hit out at the plans, branding them "beyond a farce" when there was a safe alternative.

Screens have been installed in the Commons which mean up to 120 MPs to take part in debates via the Zoom video-conferencing calls.

It is understood that the Government motion will set out the need for a new voting system, which it will state cannot take place virtually and must be in accordance with Public Health England guidelines.

The mechanics for how MPs vote, which will resume when the House of Commons returns from recess on Tuesday June 2, will be left to Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to set out.

The Electoral Reform Society said: "If this goes ahead, it is beyond a farce. It is unacceptable when there is currently a safe, secure and speedy option for voting available: remote/digital voting. MPs have already used it, and it works.

"Since some MPs are shielding and are not safe to travel in person, these plans - if confirmed - pose a real threat for democratic representation and political equality."

The Government's motion requires the need for voting in person at the Palace of Westminster and that MPs must follow Public Health England guidance.

The mechanics of voting would then be left down to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to set out, with MPs having to avoid the narrow division lobbies.

He has described a single file of MPs snaking through Parliament as a "supermarket queue" that will lead through the centre of the chamber and to the dispatch box.

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