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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 667: debated on Wednesday 30 October 2019

It may also be for the convenience of the House for me to make a short statement about Dissolution guidance. The draft guidance for Members standing, Members not standing and Members’ staff is available on the intranet. It will be finalised after Dissolution is confirmed. In the course of today, answers to frequently asked questions—FAQs—will also be published. These will include an answer to the point of order raised by the right hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) on Monday concerning arrangements for Remembrance Sunday.

Colleagues, I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Hillas as the new Speaker’s Chaplain. She was selected following a fair, open and competitive recruitment process. Tricia, as she likes to be known, is currently Canon Pastor at St Paul’s cathedral, where she leads on diversity and inclusion, and—goodness knows, there is a piquancy about this today—on the Church’s response in times of disaster. In particular, she was part of the team at St Paul’s that brought together the national memorial service following the Grenfell Tower disaster, working alongside the bereaved families and survivors, and local faith and other groups. As we know, that avoidable disaster has caused intense grief, pain and anger among those affected in the community.

Born in Kuala Lumpur to an Indian mother and a British father, Tricia moved to the UK with her family in 1971. Formerly a social worker, Tricia specialised in supporting individuals and families diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, helping them deal with complex multiple challenges with dignity. Married to Andrew, who is head of the youth offending service for Southwark, Tricia will additionally be priest in charge of St Mary-at-Hill in the City of London. I am also proud to say that she will be the second female Speaker’s Chaplain from a BAME background. Tricia replaces our dear friend, the Rev. Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who leaves on Thursday to become—I am so proud to say this—the first black Bishop of Dover. Tricia’s start date remains to be agreed, but I hope that when she does take up the post, probably early next year, the House will enjoy working with her.

It may also be helpful to inform the House now—these matters have been properly discussed with the usual channels—that at the start of the general debate on the report from the Grenfell Tower inquiry, I will ask the House to observe a minute’s silence to reflect on that tragic event and those whose lives were lost.