Let voting happen online and not just at polling stations or by post, says speaker John Bercow
Let voting happen online and not just at polling stations or by post, says speaker John BercowGetty

Online voting and public interaction in live debates in House of Commons debates have been set out by Speaker John Bercow in a bold vision.

Bercow's idea is a kind of "digital people's chamber", so politicians can see what voters are thinking, even while a debate is going on.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's "Can Democracy Work?" Bercow said: "For members of Parliament whilst conducting their debate, to be aware of and capable of responding to what people outside are saying, would at least start to fuse the two parts of the body politic.

"I don't know whether I would call it a chamber but the idea of there being potentially a simultaneous dialogue between chambers of Parliament and members of the public, seems to me not an idea to be afraid of at all. It's actually quite an exciting idea."

It also sounds suspiciously like Twitter, which many MPs spend a lot of time trawling while in parliament.

On online voting, Bercow insisted it was an inevitable progression - despite concerns over potential vote-rigging.

"There will be a growing appetite for online voting and that it will happen," he said. "Now I don't mean by that that it will necessarily at any stage be compulsory to vote in that way.

"But I think that the notion that, if it can be established as secure and reliable people should have the option to vote online, will gain ground more and more and more."