MPS MUST LEAD BY EXAMPLE
The Somerset Guardian, 20th May 2020
As we reach week eight of lockdown, Parliament continues to operate with few Members of Parliament (MPs) attending the Chamber and the rest participating virtually and voting electronically.
Given the short notice, the new hybrid system has worked well and has enabled Prime Minister’s Questions to go ahead and MPs to hold Ministers to account and represent their constituents. Had the pandemic struck fifteen years ago it is unlikely that we would have been in the same position, with technological advancements affording us a level of consistency during an uncertain time and for the Government to make a degree of progress with its legislative programme. However, as good as the system is for the circumstances it does not replace Members sitting in the House of Commons, debating this legislation and ensuring that the democratic process is fulfilled.
This is why, in a recent statement in the House, I suggested that Members returning to Parliament would set an example to the rest of the country. We cannot expect people to return to work or pupils to go back to school if Members are not willing to sit in the Commons. We must lead by example.
I understand that the Opposition will have viewed the current scenario as favourable in that it has been able to stymie the Government by default. However, with death and transition rates falling, particularly in the capital, we must get back to normal soon, with proper Parliamentary procedure and scrutiny, the cornerstones of our democracy, being implemented once again.
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