Sunday Telegraph – 9 May 2021
The thrust of Christopher Hope's report (May 2), that MPs should "set an example" by returning to Westminster in person, is quite correct. Yet the number of proxy votes cast en bloc, whether by the Deputy Chief Whip or anyone else, is no accurate guide to the number of MPs attending the Commons in recent weeks and months. Many of us are actually on the premises when our votes are cast by proxies.
While social distancing remains, the huge benefit of voting in person – namely, meeting most of our colleagues simultaneously in the voting lobbies – falls away. To stand for long periods in long queues, snaking along corridors and back-and-forth in Westminster Hall, while unable to talk to more than a couple of people, is a very poor use of everybody's time.
That, rather than a desire to leave early, explains why so many MPs have given their proxies to trusted colleagues. We shall be quick to claim them back, just as soon as social distancing comes to an end.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP