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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 673: debated on Monday 16 March 2020

I wish to make a further statement about the arrangements in Parliament in the light of the announcements made this evening by the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary on coronavirus. As the Prime Minister stated, we are now involved in a national fightback against coronavirus, which means that we need to restrict certain aspects of everyday life to prevent risk of exposure. In addition to the measures that I announced earlier, we will also be putting the following measures in place.

Parliament will stop all non-essential access from tomorrow in both Houses. All Members who have underlying health conditions, may be pregnant or are over 70 should pay particular attention to the advice of Public Health England. There will be no access to the Public Gallery, and use of the Side Galleries will be restricted to Members of both Houses. Members’ tours for constituents will be stopped. The education centre will close, and educational and school visits will cease from tomorrow. Finally, there will be a reduction in the catering facilities open across the estate. The closure of certain outlets will be announced.

I have taken these decisions, which are consistent with the latest Government advice, with the Lord Speaker, and in consultation with Public Health England. These further steps are necessary to allow Parliament to continue to fulfil its constitutional duties, and will be kept under constant review.

I also wish to put on record my thanks to everyone on the parliamentary estate who is keeping this House running, and without whom we could not do so.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wanted to highlight to BBC Parliament that I am the Member of Parliament for Vauxhall, not my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Taiwo Owatemi).

The hon. Lady has certainly put that on the record. I thank her for giving notice of her point of order.