Procedure Committee (Commons)

Voting by proxy in the House of Commons inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published

Scope of the inquiry

The House of Commons Procedure Committee is examining how to implement the House’s decision of 1 February on proxy voting and 'baby leave' for MPs.

On Thursday 1 February the House of Commons resolved “That this House believes that it would be to the benefit of the functioning of parliamentary democracy that honourable Members who have had a baby or adopted a child should for a period of time be entitled, but not required, to discharge their responsibilities to vote in this House by proxy".

Consequently, the Procedure Committee has decided to examine:—

  1. whether a formal system of voting by proxy is required to implement the House's resolution, and
  2. if so, how such a system should operate.

Terms of reference:

1. How a system of proxy voting might operate in the House of Commons.

  • Under what circumstances an MP ought to be entitled to appoint a proxy; and who ought to determine whether an MP wishing to appoint a proxy meets the criteria
  • Whether proxy voting should be confined to the Chamber or whether it should be available for use in other House bodies (such as general committees or select committees) and/or for House elections via written ballot
  • What effect such a system might have on present informal arrangements such as ‘pairing’.

2. What the practical requirements of appointing a proxy would be.

  • Whether the appointment of a proxy would require any form of prior approval
  • Which MPs ought to be eligible to act as proxies
  • How the appointment of a proxy might be (a) registered and (b) transparently communicated to the House and the public
  • Whether proxy appointments ought to be time limited, and whether they ought to be capable of cancellation and later resumption

3. How a proxy vote would operate.

  • Whether, and how, a proxy might be bound to vote in the way mandated by the MP appointing the proxy
  • How a vote by proxy ought to be (a) cast and (b) recorded

4. How proxy voting is managed in other legislatures (a) in the UK (b) in other Westminster-based systems and (c) under other parliamentary systems.

A paper submitted to the Procedure Committee by the Clerk of the House of Commons is available to read here. (PDF PDF 256 KB)


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on voting by proxy in the House of Commons.

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