DUP Westminster Leader and Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said,
“As the United Kingdom seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic it is vital we plan for a return to normality. A return to a more normal functioning of Parliament must be part of that. However, moving immediately to remove the current ‘hybrid’ system functioning at Westminster raises problems for many MPs representing parts of the United Kingdom that are geographically distant from London.
For Northern Ireland MPs transport remains an issue, with flights not fully operational. Similarly for MPs unable to travel home each day, the availability of accommodation in London does not appear to have been fully considered given that hotels are not yet open.
Beyond this there are concerns that a ‘two-tier’ system of MPs could end up being created. Those MPs who have underlying health conditions would find themselves excluded from proceedings. The abiding principle that all MPs are equal must remain and must be facilitated as we move forward.
As our economy starts to re-commence more normal activity, the greater return of proceedings to the Commons Chamber is obviously what everyone wants to see. However, it should be possible to retain the facility for MPs to at least participate remotely in debates. If it is not possible to retain current ‘virtual’ voting arrangements then it is also vital that pairing procedures are in place.
The work of Parliament must continue but it is a Parliament representing the whole of the United Kingdom and it must work for MPs from all regions of the UK. It is important the Government and particularly the Leader of the House listens to these concerns and takes forward a process which can gain the widest possible support.”