Proxy Voting at Westminster

14th January 2019

Parliament has just briefly discussed the issue of proxy voting following a Point of Order referring to the case of a MP who is postponing the birth of her child by caesarean section in order to vote in the Brexit vote tomorrow.

In the Scottish Parliament, voting takes mere minutes using electronic voting. In Westminster, MPs vote by walking through lobbies where a headcount is made with Clerks recording MP’s votes using an iPad. Votes were until recently counted using pen and paper. This can last hours with MPs sitting into the small hours of the night.

As rightly raised by Dr Philippa Whitford SNP, there are a range of reasons why people must be absent from Parliament and Parliament must accommodate them. Parliament must be able to cater to the lives that people lead today.

Parliament agreed in principle to proxy voting and the Procedural Committee has also recommended proposals to modernise voting methods. As the Speaker said, the only reason concrete steps to modernise voting and bring Westminster into the 21st Century have not been taken is because the UK Government has not sought to do so. They are stuck in the past and so desperate to have their Brexit vote succeed that they would have people pushed through the lobbies in wheelchairs.

Remember: this is supposed to be the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.