House Business during the Pandemic

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:51 pm on 8th June 2020.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 5:51 pm, 8th June 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the Conduct of House business during the pandemic.

First, I would like to place on record my gratitude to Mr Speaker for allowing this debate. I am acutely aware that it is still not a full week since we last debated this issue, so I think it is worth reminding ourselves of the reasons why Mr Speaker was persuaded that it was appropriate to have this debate today.

Since the House divided, we have seen the practical outcome of the decision that was made to restore physical attendance to this House. We have seen Members queuing round the block, up the stairs, down the stairs, through Speaker’s Court and in just about every imaginable part of the parliamentary estate. It has not done any great service to the reputation of the House. It has, in fact, exposed us to ridicule around the world.

I note in passing that we have card readers installed in the Division Lobbies today, so it might be in order for me to congratulate the Leader of the House on having been wittingly or otherwise the midwife of electronic voting in this House. It is always interesting to speculate what one’s legacy might be at the end of one’s time in office, and I wonder whether that is one that the Leader of the House would have sought. In a world where irony has been destroyed, that would just be one small adjunct.