Holyrood disrupted by ‘problem with the world wide web’

First Minister’s Questions Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

“Problems with the world wide web” have disrupted debates at Holyrood and forced votes to be postponed until another day.

During Wednesday afternoon’s session of the Scottish Parliament, MSPs were unable to take part virtually because of technical issues with the Bluejeans software used by MSPs to give speeches and cast votes remotely.

Problems first arose when Scottish Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie was unable to speak following a statement about the Scottish Government potentially breaching state aid rules.

No member was subsequently able to take part in debates about the North Sea oil and gas industry or one about ending the not proven verdict in Scots Law, with only MSPs present in the chamber able to contribute.

After suspending proceedings in an attempt to resolve the issue, deputy presiding officer Annabelle Ewing told MSPs: “I have been advised that, actually, there is a problem with the world wide web.

“Therefore we obviously need to – along with, I’m guessing, much of the rest of the world – investigate what is happening, why it’s happening and when it can be fixed.

“Obviously, there will be implications I would imagine for later in the afternoon.

“Please rest assured that those are currently being actively looked into by the (office of the Scottish Parliament’s chief executive), and further information will be provided when that is available so that members know exactly what will be happening in terms of any deferral of decision time.”

Hybrid proceedings have been a feature at Holyrood since the first coronavirus lockdown, with elected members able to contribute and vote remotely.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the problem lay with the Bluejeans software usually used by Holyrood’s MSPs to participate remotely, and confirmed all votes that were due to take place on Wednesday will be pushed back.

She said: “I understand that there were technical issues with BlueJeans which were outwith our control.

“There won’t be any votes today. It has been agreed that these will be deferred for the moment.”

Speaking at what would have been decision time in parliament, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said: “There was a worldwide outage of Amazon Web Services that resulted in the loss of the Bluejeans service.

“Unfortunately – and members will appreciate these circumstances are beyond our control – we weren’t able to confirm that stable access could be restored to those members who would have been speaking remotely today to take part in this afternoon’s debates and other items.

“So my apologies to those members who were unable to do so.”