Parliament set to use tech tools to reopen after recess
MPs will be able to return following Easter break
Credit: CROFT MALCOLM CROFT/PA Archive/PA Images
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has vowed parliament will return after its Easter recess using "technological solutions" to maintain social distancing and halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Rees-Mogg said new tech measures were being prepared to allow parliament to "fulfil its essential constitutional functions" when it returns on 21 April.
It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer put pressure on Commons authorities to hold "urgent talks" to find a workable solution which would allow MPs to scrutinise the government's coronavirus response.
Some select committees have conducted sessions remotely, but MPs had been calling for further steps to allow them to question ministers and get information from government departments about their work.
- Government evaluating ‘every technological solution’ for virtual parliament
- Scottish Parliament plans virtual questions for first minister
- Call for ‘digital parliament’ gains backing of one in five MPs
In a statement, a spokesperson for Rees-Mogg said options would be presented to political parties and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle next week to approve.
"Parliament will return on April 21 to fulfil its essential constitutional functions of conducting scrutiny, authorising spending and making laws," they said.
"In these unprecedented times, technological solutions have already been implemented for select committees and options are being prepared for the Speaker, the government and other parties to consider next week."
They added: "It is important that we have a comprehensive solution that does not inadvertently exclude any members."
Asked about the announcement, Sir Keir told Sky's Sophy Ridge he was "pleased" with the decision.
"I still want to have the urgent talks because it has got to sit effectively," he said. "I don't see how it can sit in the ordinary way and I think the sooner we can scrutinise decisions, the better. You have seen just this weekend, with the real issue of protective equipment, with the government saying one thing and the frontline saying another.”
Cabinet Office annual report shows digital agency also brought in more than £2m in extra revenue
Department recruits for individual to apply design principles to solve government challenges
Contract came with an initial seven-year potential term but will now run until 2022
Ahead of technology- and data-led reforms, officials have been invited to vent their frustrations with how Whitehall works