MPs urgently deserve say on “archaic” proxy voting

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael has called on the Government to give MPs a say on what he has described as “archaic” proxy voting before the summer recess.

The call comes as the Conservative party broke a “pairing” agreement with Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, who is on maternity leave, during the Trade Bill last night.

Mr Carmichael raised the issue in an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today, where he urged the Tory Government to “reconvene party talks to deliver a sensible and workable solution to this problem.”

Speaking after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“MPs who are absent from Parliament on maternity, paternity or adoption leave are entitled to some peace of mind that representing their constituents interests can be safely attended to in some way.

“If an absent MP were to be allowed to nominate a proxy for the purpose of voting then the sort of mistake we saw with Jo Swinson would not have happened.

“The current system is archaic and it is long past time it was reformed. Given the number of very close votes, it is clear that urgent action is required. The Government must therefore give MPs a say before the summer recess.”

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