Title What happens if coronavirus forces us to close parliament? Media name/outlet Wired Media type Web Country/Territory United Kingdom Date 12/03/20 Description "It would certainly have negative effects: delayed legislation, reduced scrutiny for a limited period of time, and in particular reduced constituency casework," says Rob Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester. "But that's not the end of democracy: it's disruptive, but it's not the end of the world." Politicians have suggested emergency legislation, including measures to keep courts running and to protect volunteers’ jobs. It is likely these and any other measures related to coronavirus would be passed before any decision on closing parliament would be taken.
There are obvious reasons why parliament would decide to close: in order to vote, MPs must walk into voting lobbies in close proximity to each other, which constitutes a clear risk of spreading the illness. The UK parliament provides no alternative: absentee or electronic votes are not allowed, and MPs who have been ill have to ask their colleagues to get MPs on the opposite side on any vote to abstain from voting in order to cancel out their absence. At present, there's no way to pass legislation other than physically being in the House.
That could cause trouble. The parliamentary timetable is already harried, with lots of important legislation – not least relating to the UK's future relationship with the European Union – coming up in the next few weeks. "The legislative calendar is usually quite busy, especially for new governments like this one, so losing a lot of time may have an impact," says Ford.
URL https://www.wired.co.uk/article/parilament-uk-coronavirus Persons Robert Ford
- UK politics