Virtual meetings allow MPs to scrutinise
Release by the House of Commons
Influential House of Commons Select Committees – such as the Treasury Committee – are now hosting ‘virtual’ meetings to enable MPs to hold the Government to account during the coronavirus crisis.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the temporary measure will mean there is no need for MPs to attend sessions in Parliament – or put themselves, their families and the public at risk.
Virtual evidence sessions of the Health Committee and Treasury Committee have already taken place – while the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is set to use the technology next.
In a letter to MPs, Sir Lindsay said remote participation in proceedings could take place until 30 June – but could be extended if necessary.
Select Committee members are able to join the session via email, conference calls and digital conferencing – provided MPs can hear witnesses clearly and the system used is approved by the Parliamentary Digital Service/ Broadcasting Unit, he said
The move is part of a package of measures the Speaker hopes will help ensure MPs can continue to represent their constituents and scrutinise the Government during the current crisis.
A) Rolling out Microsoft Teams – a secure, accredited service – to assist videoconferencing for small, private meetings, as well as large, collaborative meetings, such as committee
B) Deployment of the Skype for Business app on iOS (Apple) products and Android devices, so MPs and staff can communicate away from their computers.
“At the moment, as with every organisation, we are reacting to a fast-evolving situation, with limited resources and doing our best in the circumstances,” Sir Lindsay said.
But he pledged to set up a Speaker’s Working Group after the crisis to analyse lessons learned and the solutions to them “to make us more robust in the future”.