Skip to main content

Committee publishes report on Commons procedures after coronavirus restrictions

14 March 2021

Almost a year after the pandemic led to fundamental changes to the practice and procedure of the House of Commons, the Procedure Committee has published a report setting a procedural roadmap for coming out of the current lockdown.

In its report, titled “Back to the future? Procedure after coronavirus restrictions”, the Committee calls on the Government to ensure that hybrid proceedings in the Commons continue until the beginning of stage 4 of the Government’s national roadmap [currently 21 June].

The Committee also calls for the Government to ensure that MPs have the opportunity to properly debate and if necessary vote on ‘House business’, including substantive changes to the procedure and practice of the House.

Key points

The Procedure Committee also set out the following key points:

  • We recommend that the House reverts to all aspects of its pre-pandemic practice and procedure.

  • The House Service should develop the capacity and capability of virtual participation, in case it becomes of future value for business continuity purposes or Restoration and Renewal.

  • The Standing Orders have been pushed to the limit in recent years with the challenges of Brexit and coronavirus, and have not been substantively reviewed for some time. The Procedure Committee will undertake a thorough review of Standing Orders in the next session.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Rt Hon. Karen Bradley MP said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought about some of the most significant changes to how the House works in more than 700 years. The Procedure Committee has always been clear that any permanent changes must be made carefully and consciously.

“Our institution has adapted and innovated and, at an earlier stage in the pandemic, led the way in showing how hybrid proceedings could keep the show on the road. We have continued to represent our constituents and conduct our democratic duties virtually and physically through some of the darkest times of this pandemic.

“But as we cautiously look to the future, so too must the House of Commons. This new report outlines the Committee’s recommendations, examining how the House should move out of the current lockdown and restrictions.

“The Government has set out a cautious and steady easing of lockdown restrictions, and the House of Commons Commission has set out a similar roadmap for the House at an administrative level. This Committee’s recommendations for a return to something approaching “normality” are consistent with both the Commission and the Government, but the ultimate decision must be made by all MPs.”

The report is the latest from the Procedure Committee in its inquiry into House of Commons procedure and practice under coronavirus restrictions.

Further information

Image: © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor