Scottish MP calls for launch of virtual Parliament

Orkney and Shetland MP and Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael has called for an urgent all-party meeting to discuss proposals for parliament to introduce remote working, amid fears that rural constituencies could be disenfranchised by the coronavirus crisis.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alister Carmichael

Parliament is due to return from an extended Easter recess on 21 April, with no sign that a national lockdown will be lifted.

Transport services have been cut back or cancelled, with Mr Carmichael’s journey to the Northern Isles taking two days, by train, car and ferry.

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The Lib Dem MP has written to his counterparts in the other parties to call for a special committee of MPs, chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, to scrutinise the government’s coronavirus response.

Westminster “must consider alternative arrangements” to face-to-face meetings, Mr Carmichael says in his letter.

“People deserve reassurance that their representatives can fulfil their duties wherever they are in the country, even in these exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“MPs have to agree a plan that is fit for purpose for Parliament to return from recess on 21 April. The Speaker of the House announced important steps towards remote working for Parliament this week.

“Leaders from all parties must now meet to urgently discuss these and other measures, in a spirit of cooperation in the national interest.

“The proposals for a special committee to evaluate the Government response are just as important. In uncertain times and with sweeping powers enacted, democratic accountability demands that the parties outside of government are at the heart of the discussion.”

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