Speaker urges ‘vulnerable’ MPs to quiz Ministers virtually

05 June 2020

MPs who are clinically vulnerable, self-isolating, or who have caring responsibilities will be able to Zoom into parliamentary proceedings, the Speaker has announced.

The move came after MPs voted on Thursday to allow the return of hybrid proceedings for some Members.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle called on MPs to self-certify if they are ‘unable to attend at Westminster for medical or public health reasons relating to the pandemic’ and wanted to take part in scrutiny proceedings virtually.

MPs who wish to participate virtually will need to email the Speaker’s Office, but do not need to give a reason why they are self-certifying or a time period. However, they will not be able to participate in person in a debate, he said in a letter to MPs.

‘Virtual’ Members will be able to table questions for oral answer, including topical questions, Urgent Questions or to ask questions arising from Ministerial statements - in the same way as MPs participating physically.

But if a Minister is given leave to participate virtually in scrutiny proceedings, another Minister must be available ‘within reach of the Despatch box’.

Mr Speaker said this rule was imposed because the Government ‘is a collective, not an individual Member’.

‘It is the Leader of the House who has stressed on several occasions the desire to operate primarily through physical participation, and I have no doubt the Government will wish to practise what it preaches,” he said.

Photo credit: Jessica Taylor/ UK Parliament

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