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House of Commons Commission decisions – 6 April 2020

7 April 2020

Present:

  • The Speaker, in the Chair
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Sir Charles Walker
  • Dame Rosie Winterton
  • Pete Wishart
  • Dr John Benger (Clerk of the House)
  • Ian Ailles (Director General)
  • Jane McCall (External member)
  • Dr Rima Makarem (External member)

Apologies:

  • Valerie Vaz


1.   Parliament’s response to Covid-19 

      a.   Progress on facilitating a virtual Parliament
      b.   Workforce planning and management
      c.   Digital resources and deployment
      d.   Logistics, access and operational teams
      e.   Long-term planning 

The Commission supported the following approaches and planning assumptions which would facilitate the House Service’s response to Covid-19 over the next few weeks:

  • That Mr Speaker would lead as client, on behalf of the Commission and Members, in helping define the minimum viable product and available options to enable, if required, a virtual Parliament in consultation with the Leader of the House. The Commission also agreed the reallocation of funding to enable this work to take place.
  • That the House Service would continue to work quickly and effectively to meet Member demands, but with an appreciation that Members must continue to act within the Behaviour Code.
  • That there should be a continued mutual focus for all members of the Parliamentary Community around overt social distancing.
  • That greater certainty over sitting days and hours by the House would remove some of the risks that might be experienced in the House Service maintaining service levels.
  • That when the House returned after Easter, operational restrictions would be modelled closely on those that were in place during the last three sitting days in March, subject to regular review. 

The Commission also agreed to issue a public statement.

2.   Papers to note

The Commission took note of the following papers:

  • Letter from Mr Speaker to the Leader of the House
  • Letter from Mr Speaker to the Clerk of the House
  • Letter from the Clerk of the House to Mr Speaker
  • Letter from the Clerk of Committees to Select Committee Chairs
  • The role of the House of Commons Commission in the Restoration and Renewal Programme after 8 April

3.   Any other business

None.

4.   Date of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Commission/MEC will take place on Thursday 16 April at 9.00 am via Skype.


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