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Statement: Covid-19 and the work of the House of Commons

31 March 2020

The Chairs of the Administration Committee and the Procedure Committee issue a statement on the temporary measures introduced to ensure the continuation of House of Commons business during the Covid-19 epidemic.

“In meeting the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, our Committees are continuing to identify the best procedural and service solutions that enable the House and its members to discharge their constitutional duties.

“We strongly support the temporary measures already introduced and in preparation, as set out by Mr Speaker in his letter to all MPs on 27 March.  We also commend the Speaker, the House of Commons Service, the Leader of the House and the business managers of all parties for the changes they have made, or facilitated, to ensure that the House’s work can continue. These measures will be subject to regular review, in line with developing public health guidance and the official advice on social distancing and self-isolation.

“We recognise that the House’s resources and facilities are not unlimited. Despite this, we are encouraged to see that, in this period while the House is adjourned, departmental select committees are embracing the temporary changes to their working practices – continuing to question Ministers, officials and others on the public’s behalf. Committees are also developing new ways of working, which include holding informal private meetings with witnesses and publishing notes of those meetings. Further IT capacity will be made available to committees in the coming weeks to support this scrutiny function.

“The House has shown great ingenuity in seeking to continue its business. The temporary procedures and practices put in place in the Chamber and select committees will last as long as the current health emergency demands.

“Looking ahead, as the House and the country it serves return to normal, the experience of these temporary measures will indicate some areas where our procedures, and services to MPs and the public, can be improved. Any changes will be made with the agreement of the whole House.

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