38.The House of Lords Commission agreed on 15 June that a pass-reader system for voting should be developed alongside similar work underway in the Commons, and asked the Committee to consider how that work should be developed. We anticipate putting proposals to the House in the autumn to take decisions over implementing any new system. Because that system will not be in place from 6 September, the Commission also agreed that an interim piece of development to the PeerHub system should be undertaken to require voting to take place on the Parliamentary Estate. The following recommendations focus on the procedural changes required to give effect to that interim solution.
39.For the interim, from 6 September, all divisions in the House will be conducted using the voting system on PeerHub which the House has used since 15 June 2020. Members will, however, only be eligible to participate in the vote if they are doing so from a place of work on the Parliamentary Estate (unless the member is exempted from doing so through their eligibility for ongoing virtual participation; see paragraph 51 below). We discussed a more concrete definition and deliberately proceeded with this one, acknowledging that members may be working in a number of locations, including their offices, select committee meeting rooms, and other areas of the Estate.
40.Members will be asked to confirm when voting via PeerHub that they are in a place of work on the Parliamentary Estate. The Conduct Committee is considering amending the Code of Conduct to make it a breach of the Code to vote when not in a place of work on the Parliamentary Estate (unless exempted from having to do so).
41.We propose that this version of PeerHub voting operates in a similar fashion to remote voting during the hybrid House. In particular, we consider that the ability to defer a division, or to use an e-mail contingency system, in the event of technical failure should remain in place. A full note of the procedure which will be followed is in appendix 2. Standing Orders 52 to 54 will require to be partially suspended to enable the interim voting solution.
42.We recommend the use of PeerHub to determine divisions in the House from 6 September 2021 as an interim solution before the rollout of pass-reader voting, and that members may only participate in divisions if present in a place of work on the Estate (unless personally exempted). We recommend that divisions should operate as set out in appendix 2 of this report.
8 Votes been deferred on three occasions, and the e-mail contingency has not been required.