Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 30th December 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 5:41 pm, 30th December 2020

What a lovely statement—something for everybody. It is a bit like a cracker, except I do not think that we are supposed to use crackers any more, as they are not good for the environment. I thank the Leader of the House for the statement, and obviously for the Opposition day. Depending on what happens later with the motion, he may have to return and make a further statement: we shall have to see.

I want to begin by thanking all the staff for bringing us back here and enabling us to carry out this very important day. Some of them were up until 4 o’clock in the morning. Many of them have produced call lists, and have arranged the business today at short notice. I thank everyone who has done that—they have actually been on the estate. The key thing is that we do not see them—they are unseen—and sometimes they do not have a voice. Both the Leader of the House and I are aware of the work that goes on behind the scenes. It was absolutely exceptional that we agreed the motion on virtual proceedings. Not even an hour later, our colleagues were able to take part and have a voice on one of the most important pieces of legislation. I hope that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, Mr Speaker, and the other Deputy Speakers will pass on our thanks to all the staff who have done that.

We have moved the Leader of the House, finally, to enable virtual proceedings, to allow our colleagues to take part in a virtual debate. I thank the Procedure Committee for the work that it has done, and for listening to Members who have expressed concern about their inability to take part in debates. Members are still moving around the country—we still have to travel here, but we know that the majority of the country is in tier 4. I want to ask the Leader of the House if he will look again at remote voting. Whatever we think about proxy votes, they work, but even when we use the card reader, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on, and we must make sure that Members’ staff and staff of the House are safe as well. I hope that he will look at that, and try to facilitate it, because the new variant is haunting the country. The Prime Minister has already announced—I think he has announced it outside, not necessarily to the House—that we might not be out of tier 4 until April, so—