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Procedure Committee to hear from senior parliamentarians on eligibility for proxy voting

6 December 2021

The Procedure Committee will today hear further evidence from senior MPs Sir Bernard Jenkin and Harriet Harman on proxy voting in the House of Commons.

The evidence sessions will form part of the Committee’s inquiry into voting by proxy. In its report, Proxy voting: review of pilot arrangements, published on 7 September 2020, the Committee concluded that the system of proxy voting for parental absence in the House of Commons was operating well and should be made permanent. The change was made by the House on 23 September 2020.

Under Standing Order No. 39A (Voting by Proxy), Members can vote by proxy “by reason of absence […] for childbirth or care of an infant or newly adopted child”, and also as a result of complications relating to childbirth.

In its report, the Committee noted interest in proxy voting being extended to include grounds other than parental absence such as long-term illness. The Committee concluded that considering the matter during widespread use of the proxy scheme relating to the pandemic would be impractical.

Now that the pandemic proxy voting arrangements have ended, the Committee is taking evidence on whether eligibility for a proxy vote should be broadened.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, said:

“Following the Committee’s earlier work on proxy voting, and proxy voting for parental leave being placed on a permanent basis, the Committee wishes to hear from colleagues on whether the scheme should be extended.

“Our review of the pilot of proxy voting for parental absence found that this innovation has benefited parliamentary democracy in general and the House in particular and hence we recommended that the pilot should become permanent.  During that review, we received evidence that suggested that there was some demand for the scheme to be extended in particular to those unable to attend Parliament due to long term sickness. We decided that we would reconsider this issue once MPs were able to safely physically return to the division lobbies.

”We are particularly concerned about the privacy of MPs and their families being protected if the scheme is extended and how such an extension could be achieved without risking bringing Parliament and MPs into disrepute. I look forward to hearing from colleagues from across the House on whether they believe the scheme should be extended.”

Further information

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