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AFP
May 14, 2021

Tory MP urges end of virtual Parliament

AFP
May 14, 2021

LONDON: A Conservative MP called for the end of virtual parliamentary proceedings to ensure the government is better held to account – while appearing by video link in the Commons.

Peter Bone told MPs that Parliament “isn’t working” and pressed for an end to social distancing in the chamber.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg questioned why Bone was not asking his question in person and said he hopes Commons proceedings will be “back to normal” with “a full and flourishing chamber” on June 21.

Restrictions have limited MP numbers on the floor of the House to 50 since last March, with many contributing by Zoom. The number of MPs on the parliamentary estate has increased in recent weeks as the country begins to reopen.

Bone (Wellingborough) told MPs: “I am afraid Parliament isn’t working. It is not holding properly the government to account and it strikes me that Parliament should lead. So, could we have a statement from the Leader of the House telling us that Parliament – and particularly the House of Commons – is going to be restored to normal process and that we will end virtual proceedings?

“We won’t have hundreds of votes in the deputy chief whip’s pocket and we’ll have proper voting and we’ll end social distancing in the chamber. We really need to lead and get Parliament back doing its job properly.”

Rees-Mogg replied: “A voice crying from the wilderness. I mean, I am tempted to say ‘physician, heal thyself’. Speaker, where is (Peter Bone)? Why is he not in the chamber holding me to account, leading by the example he wants?

“I entirely agree with him – I am waiting with joy for that day when we are back to normal, which I hope will be June 21, when everybody will be back here and it will be safe and we won’t have to wear masks and the despatch box won’t be covered in Perspex and we will be back to a full and flourishing chamber...”