Report published on the impact of COVID-19 on Parliament
13 May 2021
The Constitution Committee publishes its report COVID-19 and Parliament as part of its inquiry into the Constitutional implications of COVID‑19.
- Report: COVID-19 and Parliament (HTML)
- Report: COVID-19 and Parliament (PDF)
- Inquiry: Constitutional implications of COVID-19
- Constitution Committee
The Constitution Committee’s inquiry into the constitutional implications of COVID-19 explored the impact of the pandemic, and the Government’s response to it, in relation to the operation of the courts and Parliament and the use of emergency powers.
- The report outlines the impact on the House of Lords, with particular reference to hybrid proceedings, which the Committee believes has resulted in the House's essential scrutiny role, which was already in need of strengthening before the pandemic, becoming less effective.
- Following the House’s experience of hybrid proceedings and remote voting during the pandemic, the House must carefully consider what form the proceedings of the House should take after COVID-19.
- The Committee finds that House of Lords select committees have continued to operate effectively during the pandemic and recommends they should continue to allow virtual participation by members and witnesses in the longer-term.
- The report recommends that the House administration should continue to develop their capacity and capability to support virtual proceedings in case this is required to support Parliament's future business continuity arrangements or the restoration of the Palace of Westminster.
- The Committee finds the apparent lack of support from the Government for the Restoration and Renewal programme to be regrettable. Parliament has demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic, yet the continued deterioration of the Palace of Westminster increases the risk of both Houses being forced to resort to virtual methods of working in future.
Baroness Taylor, Chair of the Constitution Committee said:
“Despite the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts of staff from across Parliament and the members of the House of Lords Commission and Procedure and Privileges Committee ensured that the House of Lords continued fulfilling its constitutional role so far as circumstances permitted. The speed of Parliament's response to the pandemic was all the more remarkable considering that its plans had to be developed from scratch and we commend everyone involved.
“As Parliament emerges from COVID-19, the House of Lords should reflect on its experiences during the pandemic and consider how it can fulfil its role more effectively once things return to normal.