Former Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael MP, and member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Wendy Chamberlain MP, have today written to the Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, urging him to support the continuation of remote working procedures for Parliament in light of coronavirus. The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, has stated that Parliament must return to physical proceedings at the start of June, but MPs from all parties have voiced concern about the potential impact on representation.
Public health advice across the UK is to work at home where possible. Revoking remote working for Parliament would require many MPs to travel hundreds of miles to and from London in order to participate in parliamentary business. In the letter, Mr Carmichael and Ms Chamberlain ask the Secretary to lobby Cabinet colleagues to support continued remote working.
Mr Carmichael said:
“It is a simple fact that during this crisis we should work from home where possible to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep people safe. Forcing MPs to choose between the safety of our communities and equal representation is unacceptable.
“Parliament must be a forum where every part of the United Kingdom can participate equally. The Secretary of State knows this better than most and the challenges posed to communities that are more distant from Parliament. We are calling on him to be a voice for equal representation in Government.”
Ms Chamberlain said:
“Two months ago, Westminster was a hotspot for COVID-19 and MPs, travelling from all corners of the UK, were potential super spreaders. Now, Jacob Rees-Mogg wants MPs to return. Currently, coming to London would mean breaking the guidance in Scotland.
“Alister Jack has previously said that Scottish MPs should not be travelling down to Westminster. What’s changed?”