Proxy Voting

Part of Scallop Fishing: Bay of Seine – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman Conservative, Boston and Skegness 3:28 pm, 13th September 2018

We should not move too much into a debate about air conditioning. I agree that an awful lot about the process could be improved, although that would not lead me to go as far as to suggest that getting rid of the whole physical process would be progress. I appreciate that such systems work well in other Chambers, but I echo the views of my hon. Friend Vicky Ford who spoke about the European Parliament.

The emphasis on proxy voting as an individual process, rather than digital voting, is hugely important. I do not seek to make the best the enemy of the good, but we must be extremely careful about how we might manage if proxy voting goes wrong, for whatever reason, and ensure that we do not allow honest mistakes to crowd out the idea of doing something worth while.

My second, broader point is that once we introduce some form of proxy voting, we will have a series of conversations with our constituents about what is a legitimate reason for a formal proxy vote, as opposed to a pair or something else. We all know of situations where Members have been genuinely very ill and obviously unable to vote. Why would that not be a cause for a proxy vote? I know the Procedure Committee has covered this issue in great detail, and I know it is perpetually the job of this House to stand at the right point on a slippery slope on a whole host of issues, but we have to make sure that we are prepared, as we go through this process, to have the right set of answers and the right set of parameters. It will not simply be a question of illness or baby leave or whatever; constituents will reasonably say to us that MPs have other hugely important duties outside this House and ask why we should not be paired or proxied for those duties.