Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom: Proxy voting for MPs will happen

Posted On: 
13th September 2018

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has thrown her full weight behind an overhaul to parliamentary voting rules which would allow MPs to vote on behalf of others.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom
PA Images

The so-called proxy voting system has been called for to ensure MPs who cannot attend the Commons - such as new mothers on maternity leave - are still able to cast a vote.

Ms Leadsom has previously suggested she supports a change but has today gone further, saying: “We will find a way to introduce proxy voting but we have to get it right.”

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It comes as MPs prepare for a general debate on parental leave in the Commons today, with legislation expected later down the line.

The issue came to the fore in July when the so-called ‘pairing’ system - whereby individual MPs agree not to vote when an opponent is absent - dramatically broke down.

Tory party chair Brandon Lewis trooped through the voting lobbies on a knife-edge Brexit vote despite having agreed to abstain while Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson was on maternity leave.

In an article for the Times today, Ms Leadsom said: “Everyone should be able to spend time with their newborn babies - even, dare I say it, MPs.

“That’s why when the Commons debates the issue of parental leave today I will commit to introducing a system of proxy voting to allow this to happen.”

She added: “I believe passionately that every child deserves to be given the best possible start in life. MPs’ children deserve the same as everybody else so resolving this issue is a priority for me.

“As leader of the house I have a constitutional responsibility as well as a pastoral one. Our political space should be made as inclusive as possible if we want the best people to stand for parliament...

“Allowing an MP who wishes to spend time with their baby the chance to appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf would be an absolute game-changer in making a career in politics far more conducive to living a ‘normal’ life.”