Parliamentary Constituencies Bill (Money)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:51 pm on 2nd June 2020.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee of Privileges, Chair, Committee of Privileges 7:51 pm, 2nd June 2020

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am afraid there are three parts to this, the first of which relates to the voting we have already done. I was a Teller in one of the earlier Divisions this afternoon. It is up to others to judge quite how ludicrous the whole process looks to the outside world, but to my mind it looks preposterous. I feel that one of the oldest Parliaments in the world should be the best and most able to adapt to modern circumstances, not the worst, but that is a battle for another day. There were some specific order issues during those Divisions, with one being that the Speaker adopted a new version of what we had to wear when voting. I just wonder whether we could have some clarity on that for the future, as, historically, people, including some Whips, have been able to vote in the Lobby when they have been to the gym.

Secondly, one Member tried, during one of the Divisions, to vote in both directions. I know that historically that has not been allowed, but the Member is certainly under the belief that that was recorded. As I understand it—I was one of the Tellers—we were not including that as one of the votes on either side, so it would be good to have some clarity on that.

The other point is that the Leader of the House said earlier in today’s debate that we were going to have a motion on the Order Paper tomorrow for us to debate enabling some Members of the House to participate not, I think, in debates, but in urgent questions, questions and statements. Obviously, I would welcome that, but as I understand it the Government have not so far announced what kind of debate it will be, whether any time will be allocated for it tomorrow, whether it is expected that this should be agreed to on nod or nothing, whether we are able to table amendments, or whether we have to submit to be able to take part in that debate. There are many of us who feel deeply concerned that the Government have tabled a motion that suggests the only people who will be able to participate are those who self-certify as having a medical need. I do not think that disabled people, or people who are shielding or have shielding responsibilities for others, should be treated in that way. I do not think that they should have to justify themselves for wanting to participate from a distance. In particular, parents who have childcare responsibilities should certainly not have to claim that there is some kind of medical reason. Some of us would therefore like to have a full debate.

I am sorry that that is a long point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, but you are a very indulgent man.