Britain mutes parliament by videoconference

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement on COVID-19 in the House of Commons Chamber in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's parliament will require lawmakers to attend in person from June 2, ditching the videoconferencing arrangements which were rushed in last month to allow scrutiny of the government to continue during the coronavirus crisis.

The government's leader in the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed he did not plan to renew the temporary arrangement which permitted lawmakers to question ministers from their homes.

He said it was too slow, did not provide sufficient scrutiny of new legislation, and fundamentally restricted parliament's ability to perform its functions fully.

"We have to recognise that if we persist with the present arrangement it will become harder to make progress in a timely fashion," he told parliament.

The so-called hybrid parliament has temporarily turned the 19th century debating chamber into a modern videoconferencing hub.

Only a handful of lawmakers and ministers are currently allowed to attend in person and the rest have their questions broadcast via flat-screen televisions dotted around the chamber.

Despite protests from political opponents, who say travelling to parliament from all corners of the country presents a public health risk, Rees-Mogg asked lawmakers to return in person on June 2.

That coincides with another expected easing of the far-reaching restrictions on daily life that have kept most Britons at home for more than eight weeks.

Having already loosened regulations slightly, the government hopes to be able to re-open schools and some other sectors of the economy on June 1, provided the rate of infection has not reversed its current decline.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)