Bassetlaw MP says Parliament returning sets a positive example

MPs are back in Parliament this week as we try to get things back to something resembling normal business.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 3:21 pm

Since we went into lockdown MPs and their staff have had to find different ways of working.

We’ve encouraged people to work from home where this has been possible and we have been no different.

In our case this has meant staff dealing with enquiries from constituents at their own homes and for myself it has also meant countless meetings via Zoom.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw. Photo: London Portrait Photographer-DAV

One slightly unusual feature of recent weeks has been the virtual Parliament.

Instead of being physically present members have appeared to ask ministers questions via video link and we have used online voting.

This took a lot of effort by the House authorities and we really appreciated the innovative solutions that helped us to get on with our jobs.

Some of these measures haven’t always worked as planned.

In one ironic case we had an MP making the case for more virtual proceedings, but being unable to have his speech heard because his broadband kept cutting out.

In another, we had senior MPs from different sides who accidentally voted the opposite way to what they intended because they found negotiating the online voting difficult and unclear.

Many people have returned to their places of work and as well as allowing non-essential retail to reopen from June 15, we have also seen our schools re-opening to more children.

I want to pay tribute to the heads, governors and staff who have made this possible, despite the intervention of unions who have tried to stop this.

It’s important that MPs also follow this example and I think it is right that Parliament tries to sit as normal.

That’s why I have been back in Westminster this week.

There are still some new procedures and workarounds that we will need to get used to.

Voting in person whilst maintaining social distancing caused some large queues.

I shaved my head to raise money for charity this week and there were points where I thought it would grow back by the time I got to the front of the queue.

It will get better.

Brendan Clarke-Smith is MP for Bassetlaw.