Today the Government has announced a U-Turn on their 'physical voting' policy, which would have disenfranchised many MPs who are shielding or have caring responsibilities. However, the wording of 'Proxy Voting Standing Order' continues to exclude carers of disabled adults - Far North MP, Jamie Stone - is the only MP in that category.
According to the motions laid out in the House of Commons order paper today (4 June), proxy voting will only be allowed for Members who are absent because of reasons to do with "childbirth or care of an infant" and "because they themslves are at high risk from coronavirus for reasons that they are either ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘clinically vulnerable".
As Mr Stone explained earlier this week, he is a carer for his disabled wife. He is therefore excluded from proxy voting. He is the only MP in the country who is in this position.
Commenting on the u-turn, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said:
"The right to speak up for my constituents and vote on their behalf is fundamental to my role as their MP. I was so excited when I found out that the Government had listened to the House and decided to reinstate Virtual Parliament for MPs like me. I was even more thrilled to think I could vote by proxy!
"But looking at the order paper, I realise that this Government still wants to silence me. Proxy voting is available to those who themselves are vulnerable and those who care for children. As the House may know, I fit neither category. I care for my wife.
"It seems to me desperately unfair that my personal circumstances should preclude me. What message does that send to the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross? What message does that send to carers of disabled adults across the country?
"I am so pleased for my colleagues who will now be able to vote by proxy, but I implore the Government to let me do the same."