Labour seeks review of how Parliament operates during pandemic

The way that Parliament works needs to be reviewed during the current coronavirus pandemic, it has been suggested.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme following a week in which MPs were required to queue in order to vote, Labour’s Jim McMahon backed a return to electronic voting.

The shadow transport secretary also questioned the Government’s decision to wait until June 15 to make the wearing of a face covering compulsory on public transport in England.

He said: “I’ll be coming down on Monday from the North West – where the R (transmission) rate is a huge concern for people here – down to London.

“I think the question is, well why wait? Face coverings are now required to keep people safe on public transport, why wait a week? Am I more or less of a risk this Monday than I’ll be the following Monday?”

He continued: “I do think we need to review the way that Parliament works. The frustration with Parliament of course is if it’s at all avoidable, then it should be avoided and we can vote electronically, we can vote in 15 seconds, we don’t have to be queuing up for 40 minutes.

“Aside from it being unsafe in my view, it’s often a massively inefficient way of working.”

Mr McMahon also said that concerns around the number of people gathering for anti-racism protests need to be “put into perspective” when considering MPs voting in person in Parliament last week.

He said: “I’m very clear that we are really fearful that we’re going to get a second spike in the virus.

“We are not out of the woods at all. Hundreds of people are still dying every day in this country and we all need to play our part individually and collectively to make sure that we don’t risk that.”

Mr McMahon added: “In terms of equity, MPs were in Parliament lining up, often breaking social distancing because of the pinch points, in terms of upholding our democratic responsibility.

“We all need to understand that peaceful assembly is also a very important part of our democratic process as well.

“And so of course, we don’t want anybody to break social distancing, we want to make sure that we control the virus, but we also need to put it into perspective as well.”

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