As coronavirus cases rise and further restrictions come into force across the UK, the SNP has put pressure on the Tory government to strengthen virtual proceedings in Westminster to reduce the risk to MPs and parliamentary staff.
The SNP has been consistent in calling for safer virtual proceedings and earlier this year criticised the Tory government for prematurely scrapping hybrid working in Parliament, including remote voting, leaving MPs and staff in an impossible position of balancing public health guidance and representing their constituents.
The call comes as we approach the winter months and ahead of London being placed under Tier 2 restrictions, in which people must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, and are advised to avoid using public transport where possible.
On Thursday at Business Questions, the SNP’s Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Tommy Sheppard MP (pictured), slammed Jacob Rees-Mogg for his “shameless” comparison of MPs with front line health workers – who in most cases have to be physically present to do their job – and called for the remote voting system to be re-established and for MPs to be able to move resolutions and participate in debates online.
Commenting, Tommy Sheppard MP, said:
“Parliamentary proceedings in their current form continue to put MPs and staff at risk, with social distancing impossible in many parts of the Houses of Parliament.
“Everything we do can be done remotely but the UK government is choosing not to allow this.
“MPs shouldn’t have to choose between representing their constituents and keeping their families and communities safe, and parliamentary staff shouldn’t be made to come in when we know there is a safer way of doing things.
“We are in the middle of a global health pandemic, and as coronavirus cases rise and further restrictions are put in place, it’s clear that the Tory government must do the right thing and strengthen virtual proceedings in Parliament.
“Doing so would allow MPs and staff to lead by example and follow public health guidance in cases where they can work remotely and still allow constituents across the country to be represented at this crucial time.
“The Tory government must do the right thing and strengthen digital platforms to allow for fully virtual sessions of Parliament to stem the spread of this deadly virus.”