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Proxy voting: review of pilot arrangements


As its first inquiry of this Parliament the Procedure Committee will revive the review into the House of Commons proxy voting pilot cut short by the early dissolution of Parliament in November 2019.

The predecessor Committee’s review of the proxy voting pilot was curtailed by the dissolution of Parliament for the 2019 General Election.

The revived review will assess the practical operation of the scheme, considering the duration and scope for eligibility of proxy votes under the pilot and the administrative arrangements, including Speaker certification and the practicalities of casting proxy votes. The review will also look at the particular issues raised for proxy voting by a dissolution of Parliament and the swearing in of MPs at the beginning of a new Parliament,

The current pilot allows MPs who are new or adoptive parents to nominate another MP to vote in their stead during a period of absence (up to six months for new mothers and two weeks for new fathers).

UPDATE: On 3 June the Committee published a Special Report following the announcement, earlier that day, that the Government planned to facilitate an extension of proxy voting for MPs unable to attend at Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.  The revised scheme of proxy voting came into effect on 10 June.

In its report the Committee made the following points:

  • The Committee’s inquiry into the proxy voting pilot for parental absence has already identified potential issues with the administration of the scheme and the requirements it entails.
  • Should the House agree to the Government’s proposals, the Committee plans to resume the work on this issue, temporarily paused because of its work on coronavirus, with immediate effect, and will seek to make constructive recommendations for modification of the scheme to streamline any administrative burdens and address any other issues which may have arisen from the extension of the scheme.
  • There will understandably be pressure for the detailed arrangements to be agreed and published as soon as possible so that they can be put into effect. The introduction of the revised scheme ought not to be delayed in order to take any Committee recommendations for modification into account: detailed modifications may be made later in the light of experience.
  • All Members are invited to make their views on the proposed extension of the proxy voting scheme known to the Committee, by formal submission to its current inquiry or by any other appropriate means.

The Committee welcomes submissions related to the scope and operation of the original scheme and the scheme as revised on 10 June 2020.