Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Order of 4 June, as amended on 22 October, be further amended as follows:
(1) leave out paragraph (1) and insert:
“( ) Members may participate in proceedings in the Chamber by electronic means approved by the Speaker and in accordance with any scheme drawn up and published by the Speaker;
( ) for the purposes of paragraph (1) “proceedings” includes proceedings on Questions, Urgent Questions and Statements, participation in debate (including moving a motion) and presentation of petitions but does not include divisions, challenging the decision of Chair as to the decision of a Question, or proceedings for which no notice is required, with the exception of any motion made in accordance with Standing Order No. 44 (Order in debate).”
(2) Leave out paragraph (2).—(Mr Rees-Mogg.)
Can I thank the Leader of the House for bringing forward this motion? It is a really important motion. I am slightly disappointed —it just shows the Government’s desperate incompetence —that the Leader of the House chose to announce on social media that he was bringing forward this motion, and did not cc Opposition Members into the letter to the Procedure Committee. I want to thank the Chair of the Procedure Committee, the right hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), and the whole Committee for all their hard work in listening to Members’ concerns and bringing forward their voice on this. May I say, though, that it was wrong for the Leader of the House to pitch out hon. Members who were doing their duty by public health—those who, for example, had to stay at home looking after people with covid-19, which is sweeping our nations—and who did the right thing? Now every single voice of every single hon. Member can be heard ring out, subject to your call list, Mr Speaker, so Her Majesty’s Opposition wholeheartedly support this motion.
I am very grateful for the support of the right hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) for this motion. As London has gone into tier 4, it is obviously important that we move with the country at large. However, I do not want to eat further into the time available for today’s important debate.
I just want to say that we also welcome the return of full virtual participation. I think it is regrettable that the Government have not given us remote voting. That means there are twice as many SNP MPs here today as there otherwise might have been, so I want to thank my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow East (David Linden) and for Midlothian (Owen Thompson), who will act as Tellers for us later today. They would not have had to be here if we had had electronic voting.