Written evidence submitted by Tulip Siddiq MP [CVR 75]

My name is Tulip Siddiq MP and I am the Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn.

  1. I have used the Hybrid Parliament system since its inception during the coronavirus crisis.
  2. The voting system has made it possible for me to fulfil my role as an MP, by participating in votes and debates remotely, without the need to put myself, my family and constituents at risk by repeatedly physically going in to Westminster.
  3. MPs with children may have ongoing childcare responsibilities until all age groups can return to school, so the requirement to return to the workplace may discriminate against them unnecessarily. In my case, my son’s nursery has been closed completely and the hybrid parliament and voting system has meant that I have been able to care for him while following debates and voting.
  4. The current guidelines state that those who can work from home should continue to do so – the effective operating of the hybrid Parliament rules until now shows that MPs can work from home and therefore, to set the right example to employers and employees, they should continue to do so.
  5. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an enormous increase in constituency-based casework, which needs to be dealt with every single day. Any changes to the hybrid parliament system should take into account the current increase in workload for MPs offices and the need for staff and MPs to be working on a wide range of different projects concurrently.
  6. Social distancing limits the number in the Chamber and the level of participation to 50 MPs. Virtual debates can allow greater participation, especially at a time when scrutiny of the government is paramount.
  7. Many London MPs have to take public transport to get to work, which is advised against where possible – forcing them to do so puts them at unnecessary risk and increases capacity on the Transport for London network.
  8. Given that MPs live in every part of the country and will be travelling back and forth regularly if required to return physically to Parliament, there is a significant risk of spreading Covid-19 around the UK if there is an outbreak in Westminster. Contact tracing will also be difficult given the density of MPs and staff at Westminster.
  9. We should be considering what elements of the hybrid Parliament proceedings should be taken forward beyond this pandemic to improve accessibility for those with health conditions, childcare responsibilities or simply to make it safer for those who work in Westminster.