Rees-Mogg’s plan to end remote voting in Parliament condemned by rights organization | Politics

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission has condemned the British government’s plan to allow only MPs to participate in Commons debates and votes in person, saying it “cannot be fair” d ” exclude older deputies or the disabled or sick.

In a letter to Vicky Foxcroft, Shadow Minister for Persons with Disabilities, Rebecca Hilsenrath, Director General of the EHRC, said that she wished to express her concerns “that proceedings before Parliament must remain fully inclusive during the coronavirus pandemic”.

Concerns arise as the government faces a potentially significant rebellion against its plans, with Conservative MPs including selected committee chairs and a former cabinet minister tabling amendments to a motion on the issue debated on Tuesday.

Before last week’s suspension, MPs were able to speak by video and debate from a distance if necessary. But the leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, let this system lapse, which means that MPs must attend in person.

This would require a physically remote vote, with long lines of MPs, an idea condemned by opponents as “beyond a farce”.

Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education committee, who protects himself for health reasons, was among those who called for further virtual proceedings.

Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone told the Guardian on Monday that due to the unavailability of caregivers to help his wife Flora, who had a stroke three years ago, he could not return to the Parliament in person.

In his letter, Hilsenrath stated that the ECHR was concerned about the Rees-Mogg plan. She said: “This will significantly disadvantage members who protect themselves or self-isolate because of their age, disability, health or pregnancy, as well as other members who will find it difficult to show up in person due to travel restrictions and family responsibilities. .

“It cannot be fair for Parliament to proceed without providing for remote participation, when many elected officials cannot attend in person.”

Hilsenrath said the government should “show leadership in championing equality and non-discrimination and ensure that, when deciding on future procedure, Parliament remains inclusive and effective in the decision-making that matters to us. concern all ”.

MEPs were to decide on Tuesday how to proceed, including voting methods, and whether to allow continued participation at a distance.

Rees-Mogg defended the plan in the House’s political magazine, saying that the total number of people in the estate “will not increase significantly,” as MPs’ staff continue to work from home.

“For MPs who have underlying health issues who have been asked to protect or who are receiving specific government advice about their health, the government is working with home authorities to see how they can continue to contribute to procedures, “he wrote.

Former Cabinet Minister Karen Bradley is leading a rebellion against the end of Commons’ hybrid proceedings. Bradley, now chairman of the powerful procedure committee, proposed amendments that would allow MPs unable to travel to Westminster to continue to participate in the proceedings by video link and to vote from a distance.

She is supported by Conservative MPs, including Halfon, as well as Caroline Nokes and Julian Knight, who chair the women’s and equality and digital, culture, media and sport committees, respectively.

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