Parliament set to use tech tools to reopen after recess

Written by John Johnston on 14 April 2020 in News
News

MPs will be able to return following Easter break

Credit: CROFT MALCOLM CROFT/PA Archive/PA Images

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has vowed parliament will return after its Easter recess using "technological solutions" to maintain social distancing and halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Rees-Mogg said new tech measures were being prepared to allow parliament to "fulfil its essential constitutional functions" when it returns on 21 April.

It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer put pressure on Commons authorities to hold "urgent talks" to find a workable solution which would allow MPs to scrutinise the government's coronavirus response.

Some select committees have conducted sessions remotely, but MPs had been calling for further steps to allow them to question ministers and get information from government departments about their work.


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In a statement, a spokesperson for Rees-Mogg said options would be presented to political parties and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle next week to approve.

"Parliament will return on April 21 to fulfil its essential constitutional functions of conducting scrutiny, authorising spending and making laws," they said.

"In these unprecedented times, technological solutions have already been implemented for select committees and options are being prepared for the Speaker, the government and other parties to consider next week."

They added: "It is important that we have a comprehensive solution that does not inadvertently exclude any members."

Asked about the announcement, Sir Keir told Sky's Sophy Ridge he was "pleased" with the decision.

"I still want to have the urgent talks because it has got to sit effectively," he said. "I don't see how it can sit in the ordinary way and I think the sooner we can scrutinise decisions, the better. You have seen just this weekend, with the real issue of protective equipment, with the government saying one thing and the frontline saying another.”

 

About the author

John Johnston is a political reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @johnjohnstonmi.

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