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Covid Security

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 4 March 2021

To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what recent assessment the Commission has made of its effectiveness in making the House of Commons a covid-secure environment. (912855)

The House of Commons Commission has ensured that the House Service has implemented the working safely during coronavirus guidance and is a covid-secure workplace. Measures in place are continuously reviewed to ensure they are in line with any changes in Government guidance. This is further supplemented through the expert advice received from Public Health England and the parliamentary safety team. The Commission receives regular updates from the Chair of the House Service covid-19 planning group.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his place. He has the big shoes of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) to fill.

We all thank those in the House service for the amazing job they are doing in keeping us safe during the pandemic. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that as we return to a new normal the last thing we need is a big bang moment where one day all these practices are in place and the next day everybody is crowded back into the Lobbies, the canteens and the Chamber? Does he agree that that kind of approach might not instil confidence across the community on the estate, and that the best option would be to adapt gradually and continue to act in line with the best advice from Public Health England?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The House services have done a fantastic job in keeping the show on the road, and the Commission congratulates them on that. The Commission also recognises that many members of the House service, many colleagues and the staff of colleagues want to return to the House of Commons, their place of work, and look forward to doing so. However, the Commission also recognises that this needs to be done in as safe a way as possible, as outlined in the road map published by the Government. So the Commission will be working closely, as is always the case, with the trade unions and the representative bodies in this place to make sure that the return to work is a safe one.