MPs mark first electronic vote in the House of Commons

MPs ate cheese and took their children to the swings while taking part in the first House of Commons electronic vote.

They cast their votes by selecting either “aye” or “no” on the Member Hub system available on their phones and computers.

The question simply asked whether or not they believed the House had considered Covid-19 following a two-day debate on the pandemic.

They approved the motion by 363 votes to 248, majority 115.

It marks a big departure from the centuries-long tradition in which MPs have been required to walk through division lobbies in the Commons.

The remote voting procedure is currently a temporary move, developed in response to social distancing measures required to combat the coronavirus.

Up to 50 MPs are allowed in the chamber at any one time, with up to 120 MPs joining proceedings remotely via Zoom.

They are all eligible to vote remotely.

After the division was called by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, some MPs in the chamber could be heard remarking they had voted successfully on their phones while one Tory MP could be heard remarking: “What an absolute farce.”

Government chief whip Mark Spencer arrived in the chamber and jokingly held his phone up in the air as if to suggest he was struggling to get a signal.

Conservative Tom Tugendhat posted a video of himself walking with his children, noting: “One of the upsides is I’m waking along the path to take the kids to the swings and I’ve just voted. That’s not bad.”

The SNP’s Stewart McDonald replied on Twitter: “Mine was with cheese.”

Conservative former minister Harriett Baldwin could be heard saying she was waiting in the chamber to see how the vote would be announced.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle then drew laughter from nearby MPs when he remarked it would all be online.