Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has criticised Labour for failing to make arrangements for an ill MP who was forced to come into the Commons in a wheelchair to vote on a Brexit Bill amendment.
Mrs Leadsom said she was was “sorry” to see Labour’s Naz Shah (Bradford West) being made to come to the House, but blamed the opposition for failing to sort out an arrangement in good time.
However, shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said the “trust and conventions” appeared to have broken down, and asked Mrs Leadsom to ensure the nodding-through process will continue.
Commons convention is that incapacitated MPs are “nodded through” – meaning their votes are counted without them having to physically enter the lobbies.
But the sight of Ms Shah being wheeled into the House of Commons in a wheelchair while carrying a sick bucket in order to vote sparked anger from several MPs.
Following the Business statement, Ms Vaz said: “I was standing right next to (Labour’s Mark Tami) when he asked as late as 3pm whether the Government were nodding through, and he was told that the Government were not which resulted in Honourable Members being forced to attend to vote when they were sick.
“I gave evidence to the procedure committee mentioning this process and they nodded in agreement as this is a convention that’s based on trust.
“It seems that the Government don’t trust their own side and they told them to be here.
“But all the trust and conventions appear to have broken down that enable us to carry out our work here.”
She thanked the doorkeepers for finding a wheelchair in time for Ms Shah to vote, and said: “So can the leader ensure through discussions with the usual channels that the nodding through process will continue to be the convention in the House and that Government whips cannot break it at their whim?”
Mrs Leadsom replied: “The convention is for members to be nodded through when there is reasonable notice and when there is serious illness.
“I was particularly sorry to see that (Ms Shah) was forced to come and vote here while she was unwell, but the fact that she had to come all the way from Bradford when she was so unwell is clearly a matter for (Ms Vaz’s) party.
“It’s simply not right to accuse the Government of putting her in this position when the first notice that the Government was given of this was just before midday.
“What her party should have done was to sort out an arrangement for somebody in much better time.”
She said she was not privy to the discussions, but called for communication to improve.
“This is something that should be resolved privately.”
Mrs Leadsom also announced that MPs would debate the principle of proxy voting on July 5.