Today Fair Vote UK submitted evidence to the Procedure Committee’s inquiry into parliamentary procedure under coronavirus restrictions.
This is an opportunity for positive, lasting change.
The Committee is monitoring and evaluating the temporary practices introduced to the House of Commons in April as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fair Vote UK wanted to use the opportunity to detail the findings of our recent consultation and the report – Democracy in the Age of Pandemic – that grew out of it.
Our submission to the Committee was clear: The current crisis has afforded Parliament the chance to reform and modernise.
As our report made clear, some of the coronavirus innovations (remote voting, digitisation) should be introduced full-time. Recent attempts by the Government to cancel this progress are irresponsible and should be reversed. A more flexible Parliament is more democratic and better prepared for future disruptions.
However, the reforms could have – and still should – go further. Fair Vote UK have called for the establishment of a Coronavirus-focussed Select Committee (cross party, opposition led and publicly viewable online) to increase scrutiny of the Government. This will be very important in the coming months as the UK eases out of lockdown, contends with the social and economic fallout of the crisis and navigates possible re-intensification of the pandemic.
These reforms should also be enshrined in a crisis-response protocol that can allow Parliament to move forward into an uncertain 21st Century confident and prepared.
Everyone is currently talking about what the post-coronavirus world will look like. Most are determined to make sure we build back better. Our democratic institutions should not be exempt from this conversation.
Let’s create a modern, robust Parliament! If we get it right, it could be one of the inadvertent positives of this awful crisis.