Taso Advisory spoke to Andrew Bowie MP about how a virtual Parliament has worked, whether it will continue, and what the future holds for businesses’ relationship with government.
“I believe we will see Government much more willing to become involved in matters previously designated as ‘business’ from now on.”
First off, do you think a (mostly) remote Parliament has worked?
Andrew Bowie MP - I think on the whole, yes. There have obviously been some issues - the inability to cross examine a minister or intervene in debates, but as a measure to ensure the continued functioning of Parliament and scrutiny of Government, it has worked better than I expected.
Do you think your view of how it has worked is widely held among your colleagues?
AB - I think the vast majority of MPs feel as I do. However, there is a vocal minority on the extremes of the argument that would have us a) continue to meet ‘virtually’ into the future and b) that would have us resume normal business as soon as possible.
What has been the most difficult thing for you and your team in working remotely?
AB - For me, the inability to meet colleagues and ministers in person has been deeply frustrating. Also, not being able to hold surgeries. For my team, not being able to discuss casework face to face or engage with constituents who ‘walk in’ has been difficult.
What's something you'll take back to ‘in person’ working that you've picked up from remote working?
AB - Keeping in touch with my entire team – London and Aberdeen based – through video conferencing is something I will be continuing to practice that when we return to ‘normal’ working practices as too often, weeks can go by without the whole team talking to each other or knowing what each other is up to.
We've seen some big companies commit to more working from home. Do you think we might see more of this happening with Parliament? Do you think we should?
AB - I think there are certainly things that we should be able to continue to do ‘from home’ even if Parliament returns to normal. For example, not requiring select committee witnesses to travel to London when instead they can join committees through video conferencing.
Do you think that the relationship between business and government has been fundamentally changed by this pandemic?
AB - I think it has. I think that we are moving back to a place where Government won’t resile from ‘interfering with’ or ‘supporting’ businesses, as opposed to the laissez-faire approach favoured by Governments of all colours since the 1980s. I believe we will see Government much more willing to become involved in matters previously designated as ‘business’ from now on.
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