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Hi, and welcome back to this Oak unit, exploring, how can digital democracy increase political participation? My name is Mr. Humphreys, and I am one of the assistant teachers here at Oak.

And I'm very excited to be delivering lesson five in a series of work, exploring how MPs vote, and exploring the question, should MPs be allowed to vote virtually? So just to refocus your attention on the unit, you've so far, if you've been kind of following unit of work in kind of sequence, should have explored four key questions, you should have looked at what is digital citizenship? Can voter engagement be improved through digital participation? Can political engagement be increased using digital media? How well has digital democracy worked in other countries and then today's lesson is, should MPs be allowed to vote electronically? And this is a really exciting area of citizenship, which is emerging as technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated.

And as it is used more in our daily lives, it's going to be really interesting to explore how it impacts in the world of politics, and how it impacts kind of other areas of social life.

So what kind of assessment it would be really good of it if you had your notes kind of in the previous lessons, so if you need to get them, please do so kind of in a minute.

And it would be a good idea to have some paper or exercise book and a pen.

So if you need to get kind of any of those things, pause the video now and go and grab them.

And hopefully, you are in a nice quiet place and you are ready to begin.

Okay, so for today's lesson, we are going to explore three key questions.

We're going to look at how did MPs vote pre COVID-19.

We're going to look at how has COVID-19 impacted MPs voting? And we're going to look at the wider question of, should MPs switch to digital voting? So let's have a look at our first question.

Okay, so our first question for today's lesson is how did MPs vote pre COVID? So how did they vote before COVID-19.

Here is a picture.

And this is a picture just outside the House of Commons in Westminster, where the majority of parliamentary business and procedure takes place in England, and you've got two signs aye and no, okay? And these two signs are crucial to how MPs voted before COVID.

And what I would like to do is just take a minute and have a think if you can figure out or maybe you can kind of anything to yourself about how this image might link to how MPs voted kind of in the House of Commons before COVID-19.

So you may need to pause the video now just take a couple of minutes just to have a think.

Okay, so well done, for giving that a think and let's see how our answers and thoughts compared.

So in the House of Commons, voting, kind of of pre COVID times was undertaken by a simple one member, one vote system.

So each member of the House of Commons had one vote.

And voting in the House of Commons takes place for a number of reasons.

So typically, voting will occur when MPs have to agree on a new law, or they have to agree on a policy.

So that's why voting must take place.

During a vote, kind of MPs will literally divide into two separate areas depending on how they want to vote.

And these areas are called lobbies.

And this is where the.

So we have the aye lobby and the nay lobby, okay.

So the yes, and the no, lobby.

And kind of effectively what happens was as MPs walk into each lobby, their name gets recorded kind of by someone called the clerk.

So kind of someone who keeps a record and then it is counted by someone called a teller.

And this is so there is a public record of who has voted.

The kind of the way they have and this is pretty much these days, kind of immediately so you can see which way your local MP has voted.

So voting requires physical act kind of, there was a movement, House of Commons, there was big crowds, and there was queuing.

And it's been this way for many, many years.

It's quite the traditional way of voting.

And then once this has all occurred, the outcome of the vote is reported back the Speaker, and the Speaker then would announce to the House, which side had won.

And that is one of the Speaker's roles and kind of another of the Speaker's roles was to ensure and maintain the debate which takes place in the House of Commons.

And so we're going to watch a little video now, to see how this works in practise, because that was quite theoretical.

I think it's better if kind of someone explained it to you in the practise, so just watch this video, and you are going to do a little task after it.

In this clip, we'll be looking at voting and legislation in the Houses of Parliament.

Now we're here in one of the voting lobbies in the House of Commons.

The Lords and the Commons is usually the Speaker or the Lord Speaker who assesses the will of the House and therefore, which side has won.

However, if the Speaker's decision is challenged by further shouts of aye or no, when the Speaker calls for a vote.

It doesn't matter if that division happened in either the Lord or the Commons, a division bell rings out across the entire parliamentary estate.

And when that bell rings, members of the House of Commons have eight minutes to get into their chosen division lobby.

In both the Lords and the Commons, the division lobbies run along the sides of the main chamber.

In the Lord's these lobbies are divided into content and not content, and in the Commons are divided up into aye and no.

Now in the Commons, when the MPs leave the voting lobby, they file past one of three desks depending where their name falls in the alphabet.

And they give their name over to a clerk behind the desk, he puts that down on a list, and that list becomes public record of how the MPs voted.

It also goes on to be part of the official parliamentary report known as Hansard.

And just beyond those desk are two doors, which are left just slightly ajar, that's only to allow one person through at a time.

And as the MPs file through one by one, they're counted by two other MPs known as tellers, who stand just beyond those doors.

At the end of the voting process, it's those tellers that go back into the chamber.

And when requested by the Speaker, read out the final numbers, for example, aye's 279 no's 162.

So kind of hopefully, with that video, and my explanation before, you have a better understanding now of how MPs voted before COVID.

And what I would like to do is use your newfound knowledge on the word count on the screen to write a paragraph to explain how MPs voted pre COVID-19.

So use all the words mean screen to explain how MPs voted pre COVID-19.

So pause the video now and give that a go.

Okay, well done, number I'm sure you have a wonderful paragraph.

I'm going to show you my paragraph and you might want to use that to assess your own paragraph to see if you want to add anything or maybe take anything away.

So I would have started with maybe something like this.

Kind of pre COVID-19 MPs used a simple one member, one vote system when voting on debates on policy in the House of Commons.

The system asked MPs to move into areas called lobbies.

These were divided into two, aye, for yes, and nay for no.

After voting votes were recorded and reported back by tellers back to the Speaker who announced the outcome to the House.

So that would have been my paragraph.

You might want to pause the video and have a look and see if you got the words in bold written in your answer and check they're explained before we move on to the next task.

So question number two is, how is COVID-19 impacted MPs voting? Okay, so kind of again, I want you to take a minute.

Maybe pause the video and just have a think based on what you know about how MPs voted pre COVID-19, what do you think the impact of COVID-19 has been on voting in the House of Commons? Maybe think about the physical act of voting.

What MPs used to do, how it used to be managed.

And then, you know, are there restrictions that we've all been living through during the COVID-19 period.

Okay, so as you probably imagined, there has been significant challenges of voting since March 2020, when the pandemic kind of took hold in the UK.

And kind of obviously, there has been significant challenge with lock down, to where people kind of have been told to stay at home.

And therefore voting hasn't been possible in the House of Commons.

We might have had issues where it's been very challenging because of the need for social distancing.

So if you remember what I said about people are bunching together, crowding out in very narrow corridors, that is not going to be possible, whilst the kind COVID-19 is around.

And, you know, it might have had an adverse impact on to some MPs who couldn't come into the House, due to health reasons, so maybe they were self isolating.

Or maybe they had kind of medical conditions, which meant they had to be extra careful.

So COVID-19 has significantly challenged and changed the way work and voting is undertaken in the House of Commons.

So yeah, this is a little bit of a timeline, okay.

And you may well remember some of these moments, if you were watching the news as the pandemic took hold.

So as COVID-19 began to spread amongst UK population, the government called a nationwide lockdown on the 23rd of March 2020.

And this meant that parliament was shut up, and there was no parliamentary business conducted.

From April 21 onwards, a hybrid system was introduced, where MPs unable to travel to Westminster, were able to ask questions and make statements to the House of Commons virtually, i.


via online platform like Zoom.

So you know, just as many of you may have school, on Zoom or Teams, MPs were also doing that.

On Tuesday, the 12th of May, the fist ever remote digital division in the House of Commons took place, in this historic first MPs voted digitally on a motion on a General Debate on COVID-19.

So technology revolutionised and allowed MPs to take part in this division, and in this voting, which is a really key part of an MPs role, in the House of Commons is to vote on proposed policy and new laws.

So, basically, how it works is that under the electronic system, when a division is called, the MPs will get a text or an email.

And they have 15 minutes to cast their vote electronically when it pops up.

And they have to kind of vote aye or nay and then these are collected and reported.

And the outcome is announced virtually or maybe it's announced by the Speaker.

if the Speaker is in the Commons chamber.

And here is just a little picture of the House of Commons during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can probably see the screens.

So that's a MP who is kind of offering some contribution virtually kind of via Zoom, which pre COVID you know wasn't a thing.

Everyone used to crowd in there.

It used to be really crowded, especially on a Wednesday during Prime Minister's question time.

So then, you know, what are the strengths of this method? You know, what is good and what is bad about digital voting? What I would want you to do is pause the video now and have a think of how many strengths and weaknesses you can think of for digital voting.

If you have a lot, I'm not quite sure, but can you think about the things you've been kind of focused on in school? How is your schoolwork been affected? You know, what has been good about, you know, kind of going to school online like have you been doing that? And what's been the challenge and I'm sure you've seen a lot of comparability.

So pause the video now and have a go on that and then come back and we'll go through some examples.

Okay, massive well done, thank you for giving that a go.

I'm going to show you some advantages and you might want to again, you know, check that you've got some key ideas on the table.

And you might want to focus on the bold bits rather than the whole sentence.

So advantages, electronic voting and digital participation is much more inclusive of MPs with caring responsibilities, and also those who have been shielding or unwell.

So, you know, kind of it allows more people to take up, because, you know, they don't have to think about if they have to stay out of kind of the population because they're shielded.

Some more people can take a part, which is always a key thing in Parliament.

According to the House of Commons library, women MPs were more likely to participate virtually, during the hybrid proceedings than men, who were most more likely to participate in person.

This increase in the representativeness of the vote.

So this basically means that what had been voted on, and the outcome of that vote will be more representative of society.

Because if it was just men who was voting, you know, not society isn't only made up of men, so it wouldn't reflect, you know, like, kind of the UK at large, it needs to have a cross section of society.

So it's more representative, which is fabulous.

So Parliament needed to continue because we live in a democracy, we vote for people to do to act on our behalf because we live in what's called a representative democracy.

And a key part of this is to scrutinise and hold the government to account.

So really, technology was the only viable solution to allow the government to keep working.

Otherwise, you know, no question there would be no challenging of the work.

And that isn't really what a democracy is built on.

And that you may have seen again, if you've been watching the news, the constant debates and challenges faced, whilst they've been working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Okay, so a few more advantages, it's, of course, it's going to be much safer, okay? You don't have to have all those MPs, 650 MPs with a House which is built for 400 it's too small anyway.

So and especially then you add a global pandemic into the mix, and it just makes it much safer, because they're at home.

And your MP can play their part in helping to reduce the spread of COVID.

If MPs are familiar with the technology.

So you know, I'm sure we've all been there, we've had to learn how to use Zoom and Teams and Google Classroom and submit things online and learn new softwares.

But once we've got used to it, it's become a lot quicker and easier.

So I know, when I've been marking, for example, my marking has been in a lot quicker when I've got used to it.

So just like MPs, when they are more familiar with the technology, things are quicker to do, and also, it reduces error, because all the recorded all the counting is done by a computer.

So that's another advantage.

And you know, it could increase the skill set of the MPs.

And then it could also raise further questions and kind of lead to new directions.

Okay, so if Parliament can make voting digitally work, what else can you do to kind of make kind of Parliament improve? going to start a digital kind of revolution in Parliament.

Okay, so we're going to go on to disadvantages now.

The fast disadvantage is that, you know, it could exclude some MPs who are less digitally literate, or those who struggle to access to that kind of digital technology due to location.

So as we know, you know, like, the internet isn't perfect, sometimes it collapses down.

And sometimes people really struggle to kind of use it.

So if you're not used to it, it could be potentially quite hard to get used to it, especially when you're probably going to have to get used to it by yourself, because of the measures in place to stop people mixing.

And if that's the case, MPs excluded from taking part, if kind of digital voting is the only method allowed.

You know, so often kind of technical difficulties.

I'm sure you've experienced buffering when you're trying to connect to something or you know, log on and you know, you're at home or you're distracted, perhaps or just a massive distraction.

I mean, that's what have been one of my favourite things during lockdown was seeing people's pets, but you know, if you're talking about Parliament, you don't want your dog barking in the background, the cat walking across the screen.

So that could be a kind of difficulty.

And they've also been a lot of reports and concerns of safety and security, hacking.

So after all that, you know, the House of Commons is our government, you know, they are the people who run the country.

So of course, you know, there's going to be some people there who want to know some more information.

So the system is vulnerable to hacking.

So, you know, where does all this technology come from? Who sets it all up? How is it maintained? It's going to be expensive, especially initially, to set it up.

Because the taxpayer paying for it, is this a better use of money, especially if it's not going to have any longevity, it's not going to last, you know, into the future.

And if it does, you know, who's going to pay to maintain, update and replace equipment.

Computers need updating, software needs updating, microphones, cameras, screens, etc, who's going to pay for it all.

And, you know, parliamentary processes are complex, so deep in history, there were devise when you know, there weren't any computers, some work of parliament is very difficult to transfer, to the digital kind of processes.

What's going to happen to this, going to lose them, or how things are going to have to be adapted so much that it kind of makes it less effective.

So those are just a few of my thoughts.

I'm sure you've got a lot of similar ideas, too.

And now we'll go on to explore our third and final.

Okay, so our third and final question is, should MPs switch to digital voting? And this kind of links really to the last activity as well.

So what I would like you to do is, you're going to imagine that you are an MP in the House of Commons.

And one of the key roles of an MP is to make a speech and participate in debate.

And you are going to imagine that you are preparing to attend the debate in the House, on, should the House of Commons keep it's new system of digital voting.

And I'm going to ask you to pick a position on the issue.

So pick a side.

So if you think the House of Commons should keep it or it shouldn't keep it and write me a speech to explain why.

Now, kind of you may have wrote speeches before in citizenship, you may have wrote speeches in other lessons, such as English.

But a speech is basically there to persuade people to do something.

So you want to make sure you're using persuasive arguments, persuasive techniques, etc.

And you can use something called a REAL argument.

And the REAL argument is basically an argument of reasons, examples, analysis and a link.

So your reasons is basically your claim or your statement.

Example, it's kind of something to support your statement, or your reason.

An analysis is an explanation of why your example is relevant, kind of adding the context and clarification and further kind of evidence.

And finally, make sure you get back to your position on your whole argument.

Otherwise, it just becomes a bit of a few random paragraphs which aren't making sense.

So this is how I would want you to draught your speech.

So your introduction, you're going to give me your, if you agree, or you disagree with the statement, you're going to give me three paragraphs with three REAL points.

And you are going to include in paragraph four, a summary and remind the audience about the key reasons for your speech.

And, you know, and don't forget to use persuasive techniques.

Okay, so could you lesson in the question, are you going to use words where emphasise points, you know, kind of using facts to support your idea, can language, adjectives, you know, invoking emotion or feelings, and kind of repeating phrases using pronouns.

So, those are just some of the persuasive techniques.

And I'm sure you have been taught lots of persuasive techniques as well in school, kind of when you've been in English, etc.

So, pause the video now.

Have a go at drafting your speech, and don't forget to use REAL arguments.

Okay, I am sure your speech is fantastic.

And I am sad that I can't hear them.

But what I would like to do is self assess your speech.

So check.

So maybe go through and tick, that your speech, you know, clear identifies if you agree or disagree with the motion.

So clearly has a point of view or an opinion on if the House of Commons should keep digital kind of voting, Can you go through your speech, and can you identify your REAL arguments? Can you identify the different aspects of the REAL argument? Have you used emotive words? Have you kind of drawn on the feelings? And have you ended on a you know, position which make people remember? Could you give your speech to someone kind of in your household? Is there a way that you could maybe give your speech to a pair? And could they maybe, you know, help you assess it.

Or I'm sure your teacher will also be asking to see it as well.

So, that brings us to the end of the lesson.

And kind of I hope you've enjoyed learning about this issue.

This issue is a real milestone in parliamentary history.

Because, you know, kind of MPs have voted in the same way for a long time.

So if changes are made, it is kind of going to be quite a historical event.

And it'd be great to know that, you know, you have a better understanding of the context of this decision, and the arguments for and against it.

So hopefully, you can now kind of understand how MPs voted before COVID, you can kind of understand how MPs have been impacted by COVID on the methods of voting, and you can have an opinion and a discussion about should MPs switch to digital voting.

It would be absolutely wonderful if you were able to share your work.

Please do ask a parent or carer to tweet maybe an image of your speech with the @OakNational address and #LearnwithOak.

We do very regularly look at kind of Twitter feed with the hashtags.

And it will be wonderful to see a speech there on kind of digital voting.

So please do do that if you can.

The final thing is to make sure that you complete your exit quiz when you leave to assess your learning from today's lesson.

Thank you very much for attending that lesson, well done on all your efforts.

Kind of have a lovely day and hopefully I will see you again soon.