Speaker outlines new voting measures

01 June 2020

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, has written to MPs to outline new voting arrangements. He has also issued a statement to the media.

Dear Colleague

 

Introduction

In my letter of 28 May, I promised to write again today with further information about tomorrow’s business. I am now in a position to do so, and also to give information about additional arrangements that are being put in place to ensure that Members are not denied the opportunity to participate in proceedings due to the limits on the number who can be in the Chamber at any one time.

Government motion on Proceedings during the Pandemic

The Government tabled its motion on Proceedings during the Pandemic this morning. In advance of the publication of the Order Paper later today, I have included with this letter a copy of that Government motion and the four amendments tabled to it.

I believe it will be helpful for the House to come to separate decisions on virtual participation and then on the future method of voting. With this in mind, it may be helpful to tell colleagues that I am minded to select amendment (b) for a vote and then either amendment (c) or amendment (d).

Voting on the motion

In advance of the final decision by the House on its future voting method, I have had to devise a voting system for the Government motion and amendments to it.

I attach a link to the guidance/ (PDF PDF 122 KB) for Members which explains how voting will work tomorrow:

I urge all colleagues who will be present tomorrow to read the guidance before the first vote. I also ask Members to be patient during this process, and in particular to observe the requirements of social distancing.

I should say that I have carefully considered the suggestion that I should allow for decisions on the motion tomorrow using remote divisions, based on the authority of the resolution of the House of 21 April which remains in effect. I have decided that it would not be right for me to take that path. The resolution of 21 April only set out a framework of general principles which underpinned specific orders of the House. The orders relating to remote divisions agreed on 22 April are no longer in force. Even if they were, it is clear under them that remote divisions can only take place for business taken in hybrid substantive proceedings, and the orders for such proceedings are also not in force. Finally, even in such proceedings, remote divisions could only take place on Government business when an item of business has been designated for remote division by the Government. 

Use of call lists and notice of proceedings

In view of the limit on safe physical participation, I have decided that some elements of the systems devised for hybrid proceedings will need to continue. While I don’t wish to stop a return to important elements of spontaneity, including interventions, some steps need to be taken to ensure that we can match those who need to be in the Chamber to participate at any one time with the limits on safe spacing.

I have therefore decided that we will need call lists for those participating in urgent questions, statements and questions to Ministers. We will be using MemberHub for colleagues to ask to participate in urgent questions and statements. The call lists won’t be as detailed as before Whitsun, at least initially. I will make an announcement before questions on Wednesday as to how supplementaries will work, but the lists definitely will serve as an indicator of who should be in the Chamber to be called during a particular proceeding. Those who are not on a relevant list should not attend in the Chamber for questions, urgent questions and statements.

The Deputy Speakers and I have also agreed that we will need to produce lists of speakers for debates. This will be important to serve as a basis for ensuring that colleagues can be present for their speech, and the speeches just before and after.

The need to produce these lists mean that we will ask for earlier notice by colleagues wishing to participate. I am afraid the deadlines will take some time to settle down, and I ask for everyone to be patient while we decide what deadlines are appropriate.

Time in the Chamber

It follows from what I have just said that colleagues need to ration their time in the Chamber, as staying longer than needed means that other colleagues may not be able to get into the Chamber to ask a question or make a speech.

During questions to Ministers, urgent questions and statements, I must therefore ask colleagues who have been called to leave soon afterwards. Similarly, colleagues speaking in a debate should not necessarily expect to be able to be in the Chamber for the opening speeches or the wind-up.

Warm wishes

Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Speaker of the House of Commons

 

 

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

That the resolution of the House of 21 April (Proceedings during the pandemic) be rescinded and the following orders be made and have effect until 7 July 2020:

(1) That the following order have effect in place of Standing Order No. 38 (Procedure on divisions): 

(a) If the opinion of the Speaker or the chair as to the decision on a question is challenged, the Speaker or the chair shall declare that a division shall be held.

(b) Divisions shall be conducted under arrangements made by the Speaker provided that:

(i) Members may only participate physically within the Parliamentary estate; and

(ii) the arrangements adhere to the guidance issued by Public Health England.

(2) Standing Order No. 40 (Division unnecessarily claimed) shall not apply.

(3) In Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions): 

(a) At the end of paragraph (5)(a), insert “, provided that (i) Members may only participate physically within the Parliamentary estate; and (ii) the arrangements adhere to the guidance issued by Public Health England”.

(b) In paragraph (5)(b) delete “two and a half hours” and insert “at least two and a half hours”.

(c) In paragraph (5)(c) delete “after the expiry of the period mentioned in sub-paragraph (b) above”.

(4) The Speaker or chair may limit the number of Members present in the Chamber at any one time and Standing Orders Nos. 7 (Seats not to be taken before prayers) and 8 (Seats secured at prayers) shall not apply.

(5) Standing Orders Nos. 83J to 83X (Certification according to territorial application etc) shall not apply.

As amendments to the motion in the name of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Valerie Vaz

Tommy Sheppard

Alistair Carmichael

Liz Saville-Roberts

Colum Eastwood

Caroline Lucas

Dr Stephen Farry

Patrick Grady

Mr Nicholas Brown

(a)

Line 1, leave out from “That” to end of line 17 and insert

“(1) until the Speaker states that the ordinary conduct of divisions and deferred divisions is consistent with relevant public health guidance and advice and with the legal duties of the House of Commons Commission and the Corporate Officer or the House otherwise orders–

1.       Standing Orders Nos. 38, 40 and 41A (save as provided for in the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions)) shall not have effect;

2.       if the opinion of the Speaker or the chair as to the decision of a question is challenged, they shall direct that a remote division or, as the case may be, a remote deferred division, take place;

3.       the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions) shall have effect;

(2)     this House requires a Minister of the Crown, no later than Monday 8 June, to move a motion proposing arrangements for virtual participation by hon. Members unable to attend at Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic.”

 

Karen Bradley

Chris Elmore

Julian Knight

Caroline Nokes 

Harriet Harman

Nigel Mills

Yvette Cooper Mr Tobias Ellwood Simon Hoare

Chris Bryant Robert Halfon Stephen Timms

Darren Jones Hilary Benn Ian Mearns

Sir Robert Neill Sarah Champion Catherine McKinnell

Owen Thompson Kirsty Blackman Liz Twist

(b)

Line 2, leave out from “be” to end and add:

“amended as provided in paragraph (1) below, and that the order in paragraph (2) be made:

(1) in the resolution of 21 April 2020, leave out from “proceedings” in line 4 to end and add “by Members prevented from attending the House in person by the conditions arising from the pandemic; to continued support of the digital capacity of those proceedings to ensure the participation of such Members, and to facilitating the staff of the House and of the Parliamentary Digital Service who support it in the discharge of its responsibilities to work from home wherever possible in line with continuing public health guidance.”; 

(2) That the following order (Participation in proceedings) be made and have effect from the hour the House sits tomorrow until 7 July 2020:

Participation in proceedings

(1) The Speaker may limit the number of Members present in the Chamber at any one time.

(2) Standing Order No. 7 (Seats not to be taken before prayers), No. 8 (Seats secured at prayers) and Nos. Standing Orders Nos. 83J to 83X shall not have effect.

(3) Members prevented from attending the House in person by the conditions arising from the pandemic may participate virtually, by electronic means approved by the Speaker and subject to such rules as the Speaker may determine.

(4) The provisions of Standing Orders No. 6 (Time for taking the oath), No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring in bills etc), No. 57 (Presentation and first reading of public bills) and No. 154 (Time and manner of presenting petitions) shall have effect so far as the Speaker determines them to be consistent with the relevant public health guidance; and the Speaker may order the practice of the House in respect of those orders to be varied to ensure compliance with the relevant guidance.

(5) Standing Order No. 24 (1) (Emergency debates) shall have effect with the omission of the words “the assent of not fewer than forty Members who shall thereupon rise in their places to support the motion, or, if fewer than forty Members and not fewer than ten shall thereupon rise in their places”. 

(6) For the period that this order has effect, the Speaker may amend any provision of this order and of any order or standing order of the House, if he determines it is necessary to do so in order to ensure that the conduct of business is consistent with the Resolution of the House (Proceedings during the pandemic) of 21 April, as amended.

(7) Any amendment so made by the Speaker shall take effect, unless otherwise provided by the Speaker, as soon as it is published; shall, if not otherwise announced to the House, be so announced at the start of the first sitting after it has taken effect, and shall be printed  as a memorandum in the Votes and Proceedings for that day; and shall cease in effect not later than the end of the period this order has effect.

(8) Before exercising his power under paragraph (6), the Speaker shall satisfy himself that he has the agreement of the Leader of the House.”.

 

Karen Bradley

Chris Elmore

Julian Knight

Caroline Nokes 

Harriet Harman

Nigel Mills

Yvette Cooper Mr Tobias Ellwood Simon Hoare

Chris Bryant Robert Halfon Stephen Timms

Darren Jones Hilary Benn Ian Mearns

Sir Robert Neill Sarah Champion Catherine McKinnell

Owen Thompson Kirsty Blackman Liz Twist

(c)

At end add:

“( ) That the following order (Conduct of divisions) be made and have effect either until the Speaker states that the ordinary conduct of divisions and deferred divisions is consistent with relevant public health guidance and advice and with the legal duties of the House of Commons Commission and the Corporate Officer, or until the House otherwise orders:

Conduct of divisions

(1) Standing Orders Nos. 38, 40 and 41A (save as provided for in the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions)) shall not have effect;

(2) If the opinion of the Speaker or the chair as to the decision of a question is challenged, they shall direct that a remote division or, as the case may be, a remote deferred division, take place; and in determining whether their opinion has been challenged the Speaker or the chair may take into account any representations made on the decision of the question by Members who have satisfied the Speaker that they are eligible to participate virtually in the sitting during which the question is put.

(3) Paragraph 1 and paragraphs 3 to 9 of the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions) shall have effect.”.

 

 

Karen Bradley

Chris Elmore

Julian Knight

Caroline Nokes 

Harriet Harman

Nigel Mills

Yvette Cooper Mr Tobias Ellwood Simon Hoare

Chris Bryant Robert Halfon Stephen Timms

Darren Jones Hilary Benn Ian Mearns

Sir Robert Neill Sarah Champion Catherine McKinnell

Owen Thompson Kirsty Blackman Liz Twist

(d)

Line 2, leave out from “rescinded” to end and add: 

“and:

(a) That the following order (Conduct of divisions) be made and have effect either until the Speaker states that the ordinary conduct of divisions and deferred divisions is consistent with relevant public health guidance and advice and with the legal duties of the House of Commons Commission and the Corporate Officer, or until the House otherwise orders:

Conduct of divisions

(1) Standing Orders Nos. 38, 40 and 41A (save as provided for in the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions)) shall not have effect;

(2) If the opinion of the Speaker or the chair as to the decision of a question is challenged, they shall direct that a remote division or, as the case may be, a remote deferred division, take place;

(3) Paragraph 1 and paragraphs 3 to 9 of the temporary order of 22 April (Conduct of remote divisions) shall have effect, and 

and 

(b) That the following order (Participation in proceedings) be made and have effect from the hour the House sits tomorrow until 7 July 2020:

Participation in proceedings

(1) The Speaker may limit the number of Members present in the Chamber at any one time.

(2) Standing Order No. 7 (Seats not to be taken before prayers), No. 8 (Seats secured at prayers) and Nos. Standing Orders Nos. 83J to 83X shall not have effect.

(4) The provisions of Standing Orders No. 6 (Time for taking the oath), No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring in bills etc), No. 57 (Presentation and first reading of public bills) and No. 154 (Time and manner of presenting petitions) shall have effect so far as the Speaker determines them to be consistent with the relevant public health guidance; and the Speaker may order the practice of the House in respect of those orders to be varied to ensure compliance with the relevant guidance.

(5) Standing Order No. 24 (1) (Emergency debates) shall have effect with the omission of the words “the assent of not fewer than forty Members who shall thereupon rise in their places to support the motion, or, if fewer than forty Members and not fewer than ten shall thereupon rise in their places.”.

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