Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament on 17th June 2021.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I raised a point of order yesterday about members speaking remotely, even though they are here, in their offices, and even though there are clearly free spaces in the chamber. Interventions can enliven a debate and they can be made and taken only in the chamber. The technology that we are currently using does not allow for interventions on virtual speeches. I would add that the people of Scotland who are watching these proceedings will be bemused that members are speaking virtually when they are physically here on the parliamentary estate.

I understand that the principle of members who are in Parliament participating in debates and making contributions was raised at a recent meeting of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. Although we understand that parties have chamber arrangements, it should not be impossible to vary those such that any member making a speech can do so from the chamber when they are actually here in Holyrood. Not doing so quite unfairly gives the impression to others, here and watching at home, that the member has been reluctant to allow their arguments to be subject to intervention.

Presiding Officer, would you please give some guidance to Parliament on what the orderly way is for our business to proceed in relation to this matter?

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

I thank Mr Kerr for advance notice of this point of order. Seating in the chamber is currently restricted, as we know, as a result of Covid restrictions. It is, of course, for parties to determine allocations of available seats, and not a matter for standing orders. While all remote contributions do not currently enable interventions, I appreciate that Mr Kerr is referring to specific circumstances, and it may be the case that this is an issue that the Parliamentary Bureau will wish to discuss.