I have a short statement to make covering three separate matters.
The House was informed before the general election that, following the shocking attack on Westminster bridge and these Houses of Parliament in March, the Lord Speaker and I commissioned an external independent review of how the perimeter of the parliamentary estate, including outbuildings, is secured and protected. At the same time, the Clerks of both Houses commissioned an externally-led review of the lessons learned from the operation inside Parliament of the incident management framework. The report of the first review has now been received and formal delivery of the second is imminent. Both will be carefully considered. I can assure the House that appropriate action will be taken swiftly and decisively.
As colleagues will be aware, Parliament’s IT service was subjected to a sustained and determined cyber-attack over the weekend. Parliament has robust measures in place to protect all of our accounts and systems. In order to protect our core network and systems, it was necessary temporarily to restrict remote access to the network, which meant that some colleagues were unable to access their email accounts. Good progress is being made in restoring remote access. Constituency offices have been given priority so that our critical work in constituencies can continue.
Parliament’s first priority has been to ensure that the business of both Houses can continue. It is self-evident that this has been achieved, and I am sure colleagues will join me in thanking all of those parliamentary staff who have worked intensively over the past few days to ensure that our parliamentary democracy can operate freely.
On Thursday last, I informed the House about arrangements for the election of Deputy Speakers. Nominations are due tomorrow and the ballot will be held on Wednesday morning. I thought it would be helpful to all Members if I informed the House now, rather than late tomorrow afternoon when nominations close, that I have decided, after consultation with the Clerks and in the light of technical advice from the Electoral Reform Society, which is the House’s adviser on ballots, that if—and I stress if—there is only one candidate from the Conservative side of the House and there are more than two candidates from the other side, the name of the sole Conservative candidate will not be on the ballot paper and will be declared in due course as elected as First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, in much the same way as happens when there is an unopposed candidate for the Chair of a Select Committee.
I hope that this will help Members in all parts of the House to deal with the perceived complexities of the single transferable vote system to which we are bound by the Standing Orders. If—I recognise that this is in the realms of conjecture—colleagues are in any way puzzled by its operation, they are welcome to seek advice from the Public Bill Office, the Library or, indeed, Wikipedia.