Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Procedure Committee publishes report setting out review of proxy voting for serious illness pilot scheme

The House of Commons Procedure Committee has today published its review of the illness and injury proxy voting pilot. This is the Committee’s Third Report of Session 2022–23.

In June last year, the Procedure Committee published a report recommending that Members with serious long-term illness and injuries should be able to vote by proxy.

The Committee proposed that any such extension would be temporary and undertook to review its operation if implemented by the House. The Government responded to the report in October and tabled a motion to implement a pilot, which was agreed to by the House later that month. The pilot came into effect on 17 October and is set to last until 30 April. The House instructed the Committee to review the operation of the pilot by 17 March. This report concludes the Committee’s review.

In its report, The Committee concludes that the proxy voting pilot has been a success and that the extension of eligibility should be made on a permanent basis, subject to certain amendments being made to the scheme issued by the Speaker.

The report

In January, The Committee invited Members who had held a proxy vote under either the permanent element of Standing Order No. 39A (‘parental’ proxies) or the temporary element extending eligibility to serious long-term illness or injury to comment on their experience. On 22 February, The Committee extended this invitation to all Members. The Committee received thirteen responses, which were supportive of the availability of proxy voting for serious long-term illness and injury.

The Committee’s findings

The extension of eligibility for proxy voting to Members with a serious, long-term illness or injury has enabled several Members to vote who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so. The Committee therefore recommends that the House extends eligibility for a proxy vote to include serious long-term illness and injury on an ongoing basis.

As part of its review, the Committee also considered what changes the House may wish to make to proxy voting if illness and injury proxies are to become a permanent feature alongside

parental proxies. The report sets out in full the Committee’s views.

In light of the report, it is now for the Government to table motions on the issue of proxy voting, and provide time for debates and votes on the Committee’s findings in the Chamber. In doing so, the House as a whole can deliberate on whether the proxy voting pilot arrangements should be made permanent.

Chair's comment

The Procedure Committee Chair, the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, said: 

“As a Committee, we are pleased that the pilot has been a success and enabled Members to discharge their duties, despite having personal circumstances that would previously have prevented them from voting in the House.  

“Our report suggests that the permanent introduction of proxy votes would certainly continue to support Members with serious, long-term illness or injury in the long run.

Our report also notes that the House must be careful to safeguard the use of proxies to ensure that if implemented fully, the system is not abused.

“Now that our review of proxy voting is complete, we are calling on the Government to schedule a debate in the coming weeks to give the House a chance to debate our report, and specifically to consider the extension of eligibility for proxy voting”.

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