For many, the ‘virtual’ innovations brought in by the House of Commons wasn’t just a practical response to the coronavirus crisis – it had real positives.
Less booing and jeering during Prime Minister’s Questions, the ability to call Select Committee witnesses from afar through video-link, slashing ‘division’ times for MPs down from up to an hour to just 15 minutes through remote voting – just a few examples of the upsides of the adaptations.
MPs from far ends of the UK noted that they’d be able to spend more time in their constituencies if they could contribute remotely, or that they could spend more time on casework if voting times were cut down through online voting.
Sadly, the virtual proceedings – or more specifically, ‘hybrid proceedings’, as MPs could attend in person or virtually – will come to a sharp end when Parliament returns after recess.
But an important parliamentary committee is currently taking views on what went well (and what didn’t) – to learn long-term lessons about how the Commons adapted to this crisis.
Are there innovations that should be kept? Should MPs continue to be able to vote and contribute remotely where necessary, after the pandemic is over?
The Commons’ handling of the crisis (unlike the Lords’…) shows that Parliament can modernise when it needs to. And it does need to…
You can submit your views to the Commons’ Procedure Committee, to speak up about the proceedings during the coronavirus crisis.
The ERS is particularly interested in how scrutiny could have been strengthened to stand up for voters – and which of the adaptations should last.
Their call for evidence says:
“The Committee will consider submissions relating to any aspect of House procedure and practice affected by coronavirus restrictions.
“The Committee will also consider proposals for further changes to procedure and practice which may be necessary to allow the House’s business to continue under such restrictions.
“Although the procedural changes made are strictly temporary, the Committee may wish to evaluate whether any features of the changes merit adoption by the House.”
If you think Parliament needs to be brought into the 21st century, this is your chance…
The deadline is midday on Thursday 4th June.