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News | 05 May 2020

House of Commons ‘virtual parliament’ brings remote MPs into the Chamber

Members of Parliament can now attend a ‘hybrid’ Chamber virtually alongside their socially distanced colleagues and attend committee meetings remotely.

In a historic first, up to 120 Members of Parliament can now use video-conferencing technology to appear on screens inside the Commons Chamber and participate in proceedings alongside those colleagues who are physically present.

This helps ensure that the work of Parliament can continue despite the social distancing measures and lockdown necessary to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The first ever Prime Minister’s Questions under the new hybrid system took place on 22 April, with MPs calling in over Zoom, the popular video-conferencing app.

Using this ‘hybrid’ attendance system, up to 20 committee meetings can also take place each week. And MPs will be able to attend key parliamentary activities, such as Prime Minister’s Questions and government statements from the despatch box.

The Commons also has the option to use the system for debates on motions and legislation.

Vodafone UK, which provided internet connectivity for the new system, already provides high-speed, fibre connections to several government departments, as well as numerous NHS institutions.