Virtual Commons debates should end alongside Covid-19 restrictions, say MPs

Virtual participation in the House of Commons debates should come to an end when final Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed, MPs have said.

The cross-party Procedure Committee said the temporary “hybrid” proceedings should be extended until stage four of the Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions, which is earmarked for June 21.

But in a report, they said the House should ultimately revert to “all aspects of its pre-pandemic practice and procedure” after that point.

The MPs did, however, recommend that officials are given the scope to further develop the hybrid proceedings allowing virtual and in-person participation in case it is needed in the future, such as during the Palace of Westminster’s restoration works.

MPs recommended developing the capacity for virtual participation in the future
MPs recommended developing the capacity for virtual participation in the future

Committee chair Karen Bradley MP said: “The Government has set out a cautious and steady easing of lockdown restrictions, and the House of Commons Commission has set out a similar roadmap for the House at an administrative level.

“This committee’s recommendations for a return to something approaching ‘normality’ are consistent with both the commission and the Government, but the ultimate decision must be made by all MPs.”

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has previously suggested MPs should fully return on a similar timetable, saying “we can’t be behind nightclubs”, which are due to reopen in stage four.


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