The House of Commons returned in full on Tuesday 2nd June. Most MPs have returned to Parliament and have been voting in-person for the past two weeks. This follows a short period where MPs votes were recorded via remote electronic means.
Readers may have seen that large queues of MPs were formed around the Parliamentary Estate and it took nearly two hours for two votes to take place on the first day. The system has speeded-up and improved considerably.
I have a 100% voting record and have managed to vote in every single vote held in the Commons since the General Election last December. This is recorded as “well above average” amongst all MPs, but I have always considered it is an important part of my duty and service to the residents of Northampton North to be present to vote on every possible occasion.
Social Distancing measures are in place in the Commons and most of the non-essential facilities there are closed. Visitors and tourists are not currently admitted and only MPs and security staff as well as some other essential personnel are present. I have been working in my House of Commons Office each day the House has been sitting. However, I have asked my staff to continue to work from home for the time being.
Having previously set up so-called ‘hybrid’ proceedings, some MPs in limited circumstances – such as those who are shielding and therefore unable to attend Parliament – may continue to participate in Parliament via virtual electronic means, enabling them to contribute remotely in questions, urgent questions, and statements.
On 10th June the House agreed to extend ‘proxy voting’ to Members of Parliament who are “unable to attend at Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic”, allowing another MP they designate to vote on their behalf.
I was also pleased this week to join the legal community in supporting London Legal’s “10,000 Steps for Justice” campaign, designed to raise funds to help law centres and advice agencies who provide free legal support to vulnerable individuals and communities. This annual event normally takes the form of a mass walk but this year people undertook their own individual walks.