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Distance learning: Westminster ‘should follow Holyrood’s lead’ and allow remote voting

Westminster should follow Holyrood’s lead in allowing elected representatives to vote remotely, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has said.

The Lib Dem called on the UK Government “to move with the times” after the Scottish Parliament announced the permanent relaxation in voting rules.

Holyrood decided to move forward with remote voting after several MSPs said they were stepping down at next year’s elections due to the strain of travelling back and forth to the capital.

The systems to allow MSPs to contribute remotely have been a big success so far.”

Liam McArthur

In an email to elected members, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said: “The system, which will be available for use when we come back next week, will allow everyone taking part in chamber business to vote, whether you are physically present in Holyrood or participating by video conference.

“In putting this system in place, both the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) had to be satisfied that the voting system is sufficiently reliable and secure and the testing which has taken place over the summer recess has provided us with this confidence.”

Liam McArthur.

Mr McArthur said: “This is a significant step forward and will allow MSPs to continue represent the interests of their constituents, even when they cannot be physically present in parliament.

“It is not just MSPs with further to travel who could make use of this. As we have seen, local lockdowns over the coming weeks or months may yet prevent MSPs attending Holyrood.

“The systems to allow MSPs to contribute remotely have been a big success so far.

“The UK Government should follow suit and recognise that parliaments need to move with the times.”

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