Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons 2:08 pm, 29th April 2020

First, will the Leader of the House confirm that he will introduce a motion to establish the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs for our next meeting on Monday? He will know that the SNP has withdrawn the amendments that we had tabled on that matter, so there is no need for a Division, and it is important that that vital Committee is up and running as quickly as possible.

Secondly, may I express concern about the speed with which we are progressing on implementing electronic voting? I am well aware that there are some Members of Parliament who view such proceedings with suspicion and, indeed, disdain, but I hope that any attempts to placate those views are not the reason for the delay. Perhaps the Leader of the House would update us on when we might expect firm proposals.

Thirdly, how does the Leader of the House intend Members to contribute in learning from the experience of using digital platforms this week, and in how we might develop that facility? It seems that this hybrid Parliament—while I welcome it and the great effort that has been made by many people to make it happen—has a fundamental flaw. It is not really a virtual meeting—it is a means by which some of us can contribute remotely to physical proceedings in the Chamber, so it will always create two classes of participant, whether we like it or not. As an experiment, I wonder whether we can consider having at least one sitting of a full Parliament in which everyone participates on the same basis and does so remotely, so that there is a level playing field and we can at least consider whether that is something with which we wish to continue.

Finally, I note that on 11 May we will have a general debate on the covid crisis and the Government’s response. Rather than that taking place in the abstract, with people chipping in whatever they want from their constituencies, there would be a more focused discussion if the Government could bring to the Chamber at that time their proposals for the second phase of their response. We are now more than halfway through the first phase, and unless we have the opportunity to consider what happens next, I fear that many of our citizens will get increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with what the Government are doing. We need to keep them on board, so having firm proposals to discuss would be exceptionally welcome.