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Lib Dems call for permanent remote voting option for MPs

May 16, 2020 4:54 PM
By Danny Simm

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the new online system enabling MPs to vote remotely to be made permanent, after the successful first vote under the system this week.

The system, using the online "MemberHub" portal, has been introduced in the House of Commons as a temporary measure to allow MPs to vote on legislation and other motions from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain says making it permanent would "put an end to MPs having to choose between going into Parliament when they're ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes."

The Party believes permanent remote voting would remove the reliance on pairing agreements, which have proved controversial such as when a Conservative MP voted in a knife-edge Brexit vote in 2018 despite being paired with former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, away on maternity leave.

The Liberal Democrats will submit their proposals for remote voting as an alternative to physical voting to the House of Commons Procedure Select Committee's inquiry on procedure under coronavirus restrictions.

Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Political Reform, said:

"It is right that, like everyone else, MPs stay at home as much as possible to protect the NHS and save lives. But proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Government's actions is essential, and allowing MPs to vote remotely is therefore absolutely vital.

"I'm grateful to the parliamentary staff who have put in place a secure system of remote voting for all MPs, so that we can continue to do our jobs.

"Now that the system up and running, there is no good reason not to make it permanent. Allowing MPs to vote remotely will put an end to us having to choose between going into Parliament when they're ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes.

"It shouldn't have taken a pandemic to drag Parliament into the 21st century. But now that it has, we must not see Parliament go back again when this crisis is over.

"Liberal Democrats have been working for years to make Parliament more accessible and will continue to do so."