MPs who cannot attend Parliament for age or medical reasons will be able to question the government remotely but not vote, says Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The Leader of the House said he would lay a motion to be voted on this Wednesday, ensuring some virtual proceedings can continue for the group.
But critics say the move would still be “discriminatory” against those unable to attend for other reasons.
It comes as the minister outlines plans for the physical return of Parliament.
The plan – meaning all proceedings would go ahead in person, rather than the “hybrid” virtual system Parliament has been using since mid-April – has been strongly criticised by MPs from all sides of the House, who warn it would exclude vulnerable MPs and those with caring responsibilities.
But Mr Rees-Mogg said: “What was acceptable for a few short weeks would have proved unsustainable if we had allowed the hybrid proceedings to continue.
“This House plays a invaluable role in holding the government to account and debating legislation which can only properly be fulfilled when members are here in person.”
The cross-party Procedure Committee tabled an amendment to the government’s plan to enable the Commons Speaker to authorise electronic voting and allow MPs unable to get to the chamber to participate “digitally”.
After Mr Rees-Mogg announced Wednesday’s motion, the committee’s chair, Tory MP Karen Bradley, dropped the amendment – but still pushed ahead with another, calling for remote voting to be allowed.
She said while hybrid measures had been a “massive dislocation” for MPs and were “sub-optimal”, but said it was “completely absurd” that some members who had to stay at home to care for loved ones would not be able to take part remotely.
MPs are now voting on the motion and are having to queue up outside the Commons chamber to observe social distancing, before walking to the Speaker’s chair to say their name and which way they are voting.
‘Not right, just or fair’
In the debate, Labour’s shadow leader of the House, Valarie Vaz, criticised Mr Rees-Mogg, saying the government’s plan was “discriminatory”.
“I don’t know if the leader is living in another universe but the pandemic is still going on,” she added. “It is not right, or just, or fair.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged the Tory MP to push on with her amendment, saying it was “about the rights of all members… and our responsibility to make sure all our constituents are not disenfranchised”.
“I do have to ask the question why were we forced to come here today,” he added. “The government’s official line was if you could work from home then you should.
“Well, we can work from home, we should work from home, because that’s the right thing to do – not just for Parliament, but for our family, our colleagues and our constituents.”
Earlier, Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has been shielding at home, told BBC News that scrapping virtual proceedings was “democratically unjust” for MPs who could not return to Parliament, leaving them as “parliamentary eunuchs”.
He added: “This stern and unbending attitude of the powers that be is unfortunately why many people sometimes have problems with the Conservative Party.”