MPs prepare to join the ranks of those working from home in 2021
- Credit: Office of Dr Dan Poulter
Many MPs are likely to stay away from the House of Commons over the next few months after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced that they would be able to take part in debates remotely until the end of February.
The move was taken in a bid to prevent MPs from having to travel to and from Westminster during the pandemic. For the next two months they will be able to take part in debates and vote remotely.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said he and many of his colleagues would be taking advantage of the changed rules: "A lot of MPs are concerned about the infection and moving around between their constituencies and Westminster so I think most will be keen to take advantage of this.
"Westminster will still be open and some people will want to go into the Chamber if they live nearby or they are ministers working in their offices who will attend in person - but I am sure most of my colleagues will be happy to work from home."
MPs did start working from home in the spring, but as Covid-19 numbers fell, they returned to more normal working - although questions could be asked remotely and there were special arrangements made for those who needed to shield.
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South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge will have to travel regularly to Westminster because of his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer - but said the Speaker had made it clear the expectation was that most MPs would not normally attend the House.
He said: "I sometimes have meetings I have to attend in person. During the summer I drove down a few times, but now I go on the train and Tube - to be honest they feel very safe because there is almost no one else on them anyway.
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"I think if people are making a speech it is best to come from the chamber - but if you are asking a question it is fine to do that remotely."
The remote working is due to carry on until the end of February - but could be extended by The Speaker if there is no reduction in Covid infections.