The End of a Virtual Parliament
It was a great feat for the staff at Westminster to set up a hybrid parliament and virtual voting, but they managed it, and it worked. Electronic voting was quick, and very straightforward.
Sadly, the UK Government has pulled the plug on all of that. Instead of 120 MPs being able to dial in to contribute, a maximum of 50 can be in the chamber (quite correctly, as social distancing needs to apply). We no longer have access to hybrid proceedings. There are 59 MPs representing Scottish seats, and 650 in total, so 50 is clearly not enough. The right thing to do would be to add the 120 additional virtual participants back in to the proceedings.
Voting in the hybrid parliament was quick and easy, but this photo (taken from the twitter feed of Toby Perkins MP) shows the performance at Westminster today, where in person socially distanced voting, meant a queue so long it stretched all the way through the parliamentary estate, and then outside. It took an hour to vote, even though all MPs have not returned to London yet - I am working in East Renfrewshire this week - so goodness knows how long it would take if everyone was there.
I wonder what plans there are to deal with votes tomorrow, when rain is forecast? What thought have they given to people who have health reasons for not attending? It just can't be sensible to do this when there was a very effective electronic system available. Why on earth is the UK Government so keen on this bonkers plan?