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Friday, May 29, 2020

Government bungles plans for Commons return

The UK Government's insistence that MPs return to the House of Commons in person next week has already started to unravel with the revelation that there is currently no safe way for voting to take place.

Both Houses of Parliament have stubbornly clung to methods of working that have been in place for hundreds of years, with apparently little appetite for reform. These include maintaining the voting lobbies, where MPs file though two opposing corridors to record their vote, in a ceremony that can take over 15 minutes for each division.

Now, as the Guardian reports, Public Health England have advised that this method of voting is inherently unsafe and cannot be used. The Speaker has written to MPs to advise:

“There are pinch points in the lobbies where MPs are recorded by clerks and counted by tellers where it would be difficult to maintain social distancing, even though perspex booths were prepared for two of the division desks.” Such votes would also risk taking longer than allowed under parliamentary proceedings, he added.

Hoyle said that if the government and opposition were unable to agree a way forward, he would allow amendments to the government motion for new procedures.

In addition, the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents many security, catering and other support staff in parliament, has also raised concerns about the full return of MPs:

The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said the part-virtual system had worked well, and said it was “strange why the government is in a rush to change course when a second covid spike is such a strong possibility”.

What is most bizarre about these revelations is that they were entirely predictable at the time the Jacob Rees Mogg forced through a motion summoning MPs back to Westminster.  However, as with Dominic Cummings little road trip, political self interest won-out.

On the bright side, perhaps Parliament will be forced into the twenty-first century at long last.
Yes. Move into THIS century. Do Westminster up and make it into a Tourist spot to earn money for the country.
A new Parliament should rise from the ashes central to the UK as we enter a new era.
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