Virtual Parliament: Electoral Reform Society welcomes ‘good progress’ but call for clarity on voting

Posted on the 16th April 2020

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, Thursday 16th April 2020.
  • Contact Josiah on [email protected] / 07717211630

Commenting on the House of Commons Commission’s backing for ‘virtual Parliament’ arrangement when the Commons returns next week [1], Darren Hughes – Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society – said:

“This is good progress towards a virtual Parliament, and it will be up to the parties to endorse the proposals next week. However, some significant questions remain.

“The elephant in the room seems to be the question of how MPs will vote. What is paramount is that voters are represented, and that members are safe. That means we must either see a rapid rollout of proxy voting for MPs and Peers, or allowing them to vote digitally. This is an urgent matter of scrutiny, representation and safety. We hope all parties work together to make it happen.

“The changes we saw before the recess were not fit for purpose, leaving votes at the whim of whips or whoever was able to turn up. Divisions were taking 30-40 minutes with considerable risk to members and their staff. The next step towards a virtual Parliament must be getting to grips with voting. Other Parliaments have managed it: so can we.

“We cannot let voters’ voices be diminished when life-changing decisions are being made every day. Parliament can and must rise to the challenge.”

It is currently unclear whether the arrangements for the House of Lords will be similarly robust.

ENDS

[1] https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-virtual-parliament-plan-approved-for-mps-to-quiz-ministers-11974166

[2] The ERS are the UK’s leading democracy group, campaigning for political reform and proportional representation for voters.

The ERS are fronting civil society calls for a ‘modern, democratic’ response, and robust, efficient scrutiny during the crisis. See: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/new-pandemic-new-politics-parliament-must-be-innovative-when-it-returns-after-recess/ and https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/keir-starmer-will-have-to-combine-working-together-and-in-depth-scrutiny/

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