We’ve all heard about the Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, who delayed her caesarean section in order to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Since then, the government has announced plans to allow proxy voting for MPs on parental leave. If it goes ahead, there will be a pilot year after which it would be reviewed.
But this should have been introduced way before now. Tulip Siddiq should not have had to wait an additional two days to give birth to her son so she could vote on such a vital issue.
MPs should not have to feel they must choose between being a parent to their young child – or giving birth as planned – and carrying out their role as an MP. If proxy voting for MPs is introduced, it would go a long way in facilitating both. Wherever someone works, their workplace should take into consideration the needs of all parents, especially ones with a new-born child.
Also, there appears to be a lack of trust in the ‘pairing’ system. This means that if an MP cannot attend a vote, an MP on the opposing side would refrain from voting to balance out the result. However, as an agreement through pairing is informal, there can be no guarantee that an opposition MP will not cast their vote. Proxy voting could arguably reduce the risk of uncertainty among MPs when it comes to voting.
And considering it is an option for the electorate during elections, why should it be any different for MPs? After all, MPs are elected by their constituents, so by not allowing them to vote by proxy where necessary, they are less able to represent their constituents, as well as themselves as MPs.
The introduction of proxy voting for MPs is something that I believe would be a positive step forward. It would arguably allow MPs to serve their constituents without having to rely on the word of an opposition MP. In my view, it is absolutely something that should be implemented in parliament.