Online voting to be introduced in House of Lords for the first time
Members of the House of Lords will soon be able to vote remotely for the first time when the House of Lords launches an online voting system. Peers will be able to vote on a smartphone, laptop or other device.
The move to online voting will ensure that Lords members can fulfil an essential element of their constitutional role to examine and shape legislation whether they are in the Chamber or taking part remotely.
Subject to the outcome of final testing later this week, the first remote vote could be held as early as Monday 15 June when the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill is due to have its Third Reading; and regulations on access to abortions in Northern Ireland are set to be considered.
The House of Lords has this week moved to hybrid arrangements – with a limited number of Peers taking part in proceedings in the Chamber and the rest remotely. All voting will be through a brand new online hub which enables members to vote whether they are in Westminster or elsewhere.
Important legislation due to be considered by Peers over the next few weeks – where online voting may be used if divisions are required – includes the Fisheries Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Pensions Bill and the Private International Law Bill.
Commenting Lord McFall, Chair of the Lords Procedure Committee, said:
“The introduction of online voting is another significant step forward for the House of Lords. It will enable all our members to carry out their vital duty of checking, challenging and holding the Government to account as well as shaping new laws in these unprecedented times.
“It follows the introduction this week of hybrid proceedings. The Lords has been at the centre of efforts to examine all the health and economic aspects of Coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic through oral and urgent questions, debates and select committee evidence hearings. Members have scrutinised the Government's response on everything from testing for Covid-19 in care homes to the impact of the virus on mental health services, homelessness and the museums and galleries sector.”