Tories finally U-turn over remote Commons work after complaint from MP with cancer

The U-turn comes after Ms Crouch’s impassioned plea in the Commons (Image: Parliament TV)

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Tory Common's chiefs have said they will change rules in Parliament to let MPs isolating take part after an MP with cancer was excluded from a debate.

Former minister Tracey Crouch, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, challenged Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg last week after she was “disappointingly unable to participate” in a Westminster Hall debate on breast cancer.

And yesterday, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was “urgently exploring” how to got more MPs participating in the chamber virtually.

His comments on Twitter came after the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was self-isolating and therefore unable to be in the Commons in person next week – on Wednesday for PMQs for example.

Last week, Tory MP Tracey Crouch urged Mr Rees-Mogg to allow members to contribute to Parliament more often using modern technology.

The Chatham and Aylesford MP, who has been working remotely during the pandemic, expressed her disappointment at not being able to take part in a Westminster Hall debate on the future of breast cancer services and the impact of Covid-19 on breast cancer diagnosis.

She told Mr Rees-Mogg that MPs who are unable to come to the chamber were not "shirking" their responsibilities.

Mr Rees-Mogg was challenged by Tracey Crouch in Parliament
(Image: Parliament TV)

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Mr Rees-Mogg replied that there is a “careful balance” to be struck, insisting that scrutiny of legislation is best done in person.

On Twitter on Sunday night, he wrote: “Who cannot be moved by @tracey_crouch among others making her brave appeal to contribute more to the Commons through virtual participation?

“While the Government is advising the clinically extremely vulnerable not to go into work, we must and will work with House authorities to find a solution.

“Whilst there are House resourcing issues for Westminster Hall, we can do something about the Chamber. I have been urgently exploring how we can support additional virtual participation in the Commons despite capacity constraints and hope to bring forward a motion soon.”

Ms Crouch welcomed the news on Twitter: “The @CommonsLeader rang me yesterday morning to advise he would change rules for clinically extremely vulnerable to participate in debates in the Commons but in true @Jacob_Rees_Mogg style wanted to announce to House not press. This was very much pre-PM self isolation news.”

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