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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 695: debated on Monday 17 May 2021

I have a short statement to make about the number of Members permitted in the Chamber. At its meeting this morning, the House of Commons Commission decided that, in accordance with Public Health England advice, it is now possible to safely increase the number of Members able to participate physically in the proceedings of the House. These changes mean that a total of 64 Members are now able to speak in the Chamber—almost double the original number. The changes include seven marked seats in the Under Galleries beyond the Bar of the House that have had new microphones installed to enable this.

I remind Members to sit only in the marked seats and to contribute only from those seats, as I do not want to disappoint them if they are not taken. I also remind Members that they must wear a mask when in the Chamber, other than when speaking. That is one of the steps that means we are able to allow more Members into the Chamber.

I am grateful, as I am sure all Members of the House are, for the quick work by the House service that has made these changes possible in response to the improving public health situation. I understand that many Members will be keen to attend the House in person to participate in debate. Although capacity in the Chamber has increased, it is still limited, and I must remind colleagues that I will suspend proceedings if I consider that the Chamber is becoming overcrowded. Nevertheless, I believe that every additional Member in this Chamber brings us a step closer to returning to normality, which I and all other Members wish to see.