MSPs can now vote remotely as Holyrood returns

The presiding officer told MSPs this will be the norm 'into the autumn'.

MSPs will be able to vote remotely as the Scottish Parliament returns this week.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh announced the measure, which has been called for in recent months by MSPs stepping down at next year’s elections.

They believe it could be a way of reducing the strain on those who have a young family or represent more remote areas of Scotland.

The presiding officer said measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus “are here for the longer term” and will have to be taken into account by parliamentary officials.

He said: “The system, which will be available for use when we come back next week, will allow everyone taking part in chamber business to vote, whether you are physically present in Holyrood or participating by video conference.

“In putting this system in place, both the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) had to be satisfied that the voting system is sufficiently reliable and secure and the testing which has taken place over the summer recess has provided us with this confidence.”

The Scottish Parliament is due to return on Tuesday but is only scheduled to physically sit in Holyrood for two days as opposed to the usual three.

Thursday will be used for virtual meetings.

Mr Macintosh told MSPs this will be the norm “into the autumn”, before the usual three-day sittings resume.

In response to the pandemic, the Scottish Parliament allowed MSPs to make speeches and ask questions remotely using video conferencing software, this has now been extended to committee hearings.

Under the new system, some of the members of the committee will be able to contribute from Holyrood, while others do so remotely, as opposed to the fully digital model put in place during the height of the pandemic.

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