LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS – PROXY VOTING – 22 January 2019
Dr Julian Lewis: May I perhaps surprise you, Mr Speaker, by suggesting that I think this does not go far enough? I think that if this pilot scheme succeeds, as I hope and believe it will, it will probably pretty soon be extended to people who are unwell, because there are very strong arguments that people who are ill should be able to have a proxy for the same sort of reasoning that correctly underlies this one. However, does the Leader of the House agree that any move to something like electronic voting would be a retrograde step? The reason why we vote in person – there are many reasons why, but one of the principal ones – is that we can get hold of a lot of colleagues, principally Ministers or shadow Ministers, at the same time in the same place every day. That is the reason why we would be cutting our own throats as Back Benchers if we were simply prepared to press a button and leave it at that. Let us do this for the categories that need it, but preserve the rights of Back Benchers to be able to nobble Ministers in the Lobbies, because that is what they need.
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Andrea Leadsom): My right hon. Friend demonstrates perfectly why some debate was needed before we decided to limit the proposal to baby leave and have a one-year pilot. Some Members argue that proxy voting should have a broader reach and include those who are ill or otherwise incapacitated. Clearly there are different views on how we vote, but those are for another day.]