Written evidence submitted by Rosie Duffield MP,
Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party (PVX 07)

The submissions by my colleagues display the overall success of this proxy voting trial. It is clear that Parliament did not have adequate provisions in this area, and that if implemented full time this proxy voting system would make Parliament a more accessible place ,particularly for young parents. As chair of the Women's PLP, I represent 104 female Labour MPs; a full time proxy voting system will make the House a better and more accommodating place for my members.

However I would agree with several of my colleagues who feel that the proxy voting system has not gone far enough. As Ellie Reeves points out, this trial extended proxy voting for 6 weeks, when for an employee in UK Statutory Maternity Leave runs to 52 weeks. Being a Member of Parliament should not mean forfeiting what would be standard rights in another workplace, nor should it infringe on the ability of parliamentarians to have family lives. The window as laid out in this trial is too short; it does not adequately account for the naturally somewhat unpredictable duration of pregnancies, and makes the assumption that parents will be willing or able to spend time away from their very young babies only a short time after becoming a parent. The failure to account for the unpredictable nature of due dates and potential medical complications can also be seen in the short notice period for proxy voting (just one sitting day) which should also be re considered before, as is my hope, this system is adopted on a permanent basis.

I also agree with Kemi Badenoch’s suggestion around more resources being made available to explain the proxy voting system to constituents and what it means for how they are to be represented.

I would recommend that the House looks into applying these findings as soon as possible, and also investigates expanding this proxy system to include select committees.


March 2020