Coronavirus: Speaker urges Vulnerable MPs to stay away from Parliament

Coronavirus: Speaker urges Vulnerable MPs to stay away from Parliament

The Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle has urged vulnerable MPs to stay away from Parliament, amid rising cases of coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker confirmed he has told “a number of members” to avoid travelling to Westminster.

It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan warns the city could be put into stricter lockdowns within days.

Last week the Speaker said there had been “a small number of cases on the parliamentary estate”.

He introduced new safety measures in a bid to protect MPs and staff from the virus including installing Perspex screens in the Commons and advising further use of face coverings.

The Speaker’s move was first reported in the Times newspaper.

Both the Commons and the Lords are still running a “hybrid Parliament” which enables members to join in debates via video link and vote using proxies.

A limited number are allowed in the Commons chamber and many MPs have returned to Westminster.

Some MPs have called for a return to remote voting – which was trialled earlier in the year – in order to avoid crowding in the House of Commons during voting times.

But Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg rejected the suggestion saying: “It is our duty to be here representing our constituents and voting.”

The Speaker’s spokeswoman said: “The Speaker’s number one priority is the safety of MPs, their staff and House staff – and to ensure the parliamentary estate is Covid-secure.

“The advice we have given all staff, which is to work from home if they can, is the same for MPs, particularly those who are under medical supervision.

“As Covid cases are rising across the country, the last thing the Speaker wants to do is encourage MPs who are vulnerable to take risks by travelling into Parliament. This is exactly what he told a number of members during a recent phone call.”

A government spokesperson said: “Under the leadership of the Speaker, the House authorities have put in place robust and effective measures to ensure that the House of Commons is a covid-secure workplace. “These measures have allowed Parliament to continue conducting its vital constitutional functions of law-making and scrutiny, which are essential to tackling the coronavirus pandemic.”

Earlier this month Sir Lindsay criticised the MP Margaret Ferrier who travelled from Glasgow to London with Covid-19 symptoms, then returned home after testing positive.

Ms Ferrier has been suspended from the SNP and has been urged to quit as an MP.

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