House of Commons return a step in the right direction but all proceedings should be digital
Plaid Cymru Chief Whip, Jonathan Edwards MP, has welcomed the return of the House of Commons, but raised concerns that the so-called ‘hybrid’ format risks putting those MPs who don’t live near London at a serious disadvantage.
The House of Commons will return today (21 April) to approve a change in its rules of operation that will see questioning of ministers happen digitally, with the first video-linked session taking place on Wednesday.
Mr Edwards, who has been part of the cross-party discussions on the new operation on the House of Commons, said that it is vital that MPs return to hold the UK Government to account.
He has however, raised concerns that the fact only part of the House’s business will be conducted digitally will mean that MPs not based in and around London will be forced to travel to make a contribution in some sessions, which could have been conducted via video link.
As things stand, the first two hours of each day will be digital, with the recurring departmental questions, including PMQs taking place, followed by any Ministerial Statements and Urgent Questions. Any further business, however, will continue to be conducted in person, in the House of Commons chamber.
The Plaid MP pointed to the Senedd as an example of the first parliament in the UK to hold a fully-digital meeting.
Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“The House of Commons being recalled is an important step in ensuring the concerns of our constituents are heard and the UK Government is held to account.
“It is disappointing however that some proceedings will continue to happen in person. It is not only unnecessary, but potentially exclusionary, as MPs not based in and around London will be forced to travel to make a contribution to certain debates.
“We know we should be cutting down our travel, both for our own safety and for the safety of others. It makes no sense to create a new system for Parliament that will force people to travel.
“It is not the example MPs should be setting.
“Weeks ago, the Senedd proved that a fully digital parliament was possible. We can work from home, so we should.”