Hybrid Proceedings (Extension of Temporary Orders)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:13 pm on 12th May 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley Chair, Procedure Committee, Chair, Procedure Committee 6:13 pm, 12th May 2020

This is my first contribution under the hybrid proceedings. It was a shock to me not to be bobbing up and down to catch your eye, Mr Speaker, but of course we do not do that anymore, because we have equality of treatment between people in the Chamber and those who are contributing virtually.

I put on record a thank you to everybody who has been involved in allowing Parliament to restart, Members to contribute from wherever we are in the country and all Members to be part of proceedings. I know what a mammoth task it has been to develop the proceedings that we have and to allow people to be able to contribute virtually, as well as physically in the Chamber. I thank you, Mr Speaker, in particular for the work that you have done leading on that very important matter.

There is no doubt that the situation we are in today is sub-optimal, given the lack of interventions and spontaneity and the restrictions on the period for which the House can sit. These are not issues anyone wishes for; there are technical reasons why we cannot sit for more than two hours at a time and need breaks to allow the technology to be reset. We have to agree, however, that given that it was from a standing start, what we have brought into place has been remarkably successful, albeit that we all agree that it is not as effective as the physical presence of Members in Westminster who can do the jobs that they were elected to do here in Parliament.

It is also important to make the point that these will be decisions for the House. These are decisions that the House will make, and it will be for Members to decide what they want to see happen in the future. I welcome the fact that the orders are being renewed, and I want to remind Members that the Procedure Committee is holding an inquiry at the moment and would welcome contributions from Members, particularly in light of the announcement from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the intention not to renew the orders after 20 May. It will be very important that we hear from Members. I also know, Mr Speaker, that in any event you and the teams in the House service are looking to improve how we manage this, including the fact that we have gone from a 30-minute break to a 15-minute break and are looking to have longer for scrutiny.

The Procedure Committee supports the renewal of the motions today and we look forward to looking further at the work that is going on and to hearing from Members.