Parliamentary unions insist on return to hybrid parliament

2 November 2020

In light of the government announcement of a new lockdown, Parliamentary unions, led by Prospect and including the FDA and PCS, have written to the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg calling for a return to the hybrid operation of parliament including remote voting.

The letter highlights the success of such arrangements during the previous lockdown; flags the concerns staff and some MPs have already raised about compliance with the current COVID measures; and suggests a return to hybrid operation now could prevent a complete shutdown of parliament in the near future.

The letter says:

Figures also show that the number of staff with COVID sickness absence are rising and staff – having seen the Government taking prompt action in response to rising cases nationally – will expect Parliament to respond similarly.

Parliamentary unions have been calling for hybrid proceedings to be put back in place for several weeks now but as yet to no avail.

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of Prospect, said:

“Thanks to the hard work of Parliamentary staff, the functioning of our democracy has been maintained throughout this crisis and will be in future.

“But requiring MPs to travel to Westminster just so they can vote in person is ludicrous. Not only is it encouraging unnecessary travel across the country, it means more staff are required to commute into the Parliamentary estate every working day.

“Thanks to the hard work and expertise of our member hybrid proceedings worked well during the last lockdown and there is no reason they can’t again. Refusing to do so risks infections getting so high that parliament has to shut altogether. It’s time for Jacob Rees-Mogg to put the safety of parliamentary staff first and return to hybrid operations, including remote voting, while it is still an option.”