Yesterday I presented an urgent bill in the House of Commons calling for the restoration of digital technologies allowing for the remote participation of MP’s in parliamentary business.
The Remote Participation in House of Commons Proceedings (Motion) Bill,which today successfully passed its First Reading stage, asserts the equal right of all Members of Parliament to participate in House of Commons proceedings. The Bill would require the Leader of the House of Commons to bring forth a motion to allow remote participation in parliamentary business utilising digital technologies previously developed during the coronavirus lockdown.
The use of such technologies in the Commons was previously suspended by the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, in a motion of the 2ndJune 2020 which was opposed by all opposition parties. Remote participation however continues to be used in the House of Lords.
In my speech before the House of Commons, I argued that this Bill “is about the fundamental constitutional and democratic right of all voters to be represented by their elected MP in this Parliament”and went on to say of the Bill that“it aims to restore democratic participation for all MP’s in debates and committees which shape and decide the laws of our country”.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are currently 133 MP’s (now including the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer) who are unable to participate in House of Commons business as a result of having to shield because of themselves or a family member. Ms Butler argues that the Government, by removing remote participation, had taken an “anti-democratic decision done in an undemocratic manner”which had“disenfranchised millions of voters by abolishing online participation in parliamentary debates”.
I concluded that the whole world has gotten used to zoom calls and there is no excuse not to allow MP’s to work from home if shielding. If passed this Bill would “re-establish full democracy in this House of Commons, for all our voters, all our nations and all our futures”.
The Bill was agreed unanimously by the House of Commons and will now receive its Second Reading on Friday 25thSeptember 2020.