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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 701: debated on Monday 18 October 2021

Deaths of Members

I invite the Speaker’s Chaplain to lead us in a minute’s silence.

The Speaker’s Chaplain, the Venerable Patricia Hillas, invited Members to rise and said the following:

We keep a moment of remembrance and respect, honouring Sir David Amess, the hon. Member for Southend West, colleague and friend. May the bright memory of his rich life ever outshine the tragic manner of his death.

Let us keep silence.

The House observed a one-minute silence.

I am sorry that the House is returning in such tragic circumstances. Since we last met, we have lost two outstanding friends and colleagues: Sir David Amess and James Brokenshire. I know that hon. and right hon. Members from all parts of the House will share my deep sadness at their loss and will want to join me in sending our heartfelt condolences to their families. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

The circumstances of Sir David’s death were despicable and raise the most fundamental issues about how Members of this House are able to perform our vital democratic responsibilities safely and securely. In light of the ongoing police investigation I will not say more about those events, but I give the House my undertaking that I will do everything within my power to ensure that these issues are treated with the urgency and sense of priority they deserve. I know that whatever political differences there are in the House, all Members want to ensure not just that we and our staff are able to work safely, but that our democracy itself, with the local Member of Parliament at the heart of their constituency, is able to function securely. On that, I know the House is united.

The House will want to pay tribute both to Sir David and to James, and I hope it will be useful if I set out how I expect us to be able to do so. On Wednesday, after Prime Minister’s questions, there will be an opportunity for tributes to be paid to James Brokenshire. Today’s planned substantive business in the Chamber and Westminster Hall will not be proceeded with. Instead, we will have Home Office questions, followed by an opportunity to pay tribute to Sir David Amess on a motion for the Adjournment, to be opened by the Prime Minister. At 6 pm today, there will be a service of prayer and remembrance to commemorate Sir David at St Margaret’s church. I expect the House to adjourn at approximately 5.30 pm and for those Members who wish to attend the service then to proceed from this Chamber to St Margaret’s. I know that many Members will want to speak later, and if they bear that in mind, it will help us all to get this on the record. There will also be books of condolence for Members and staff to sign.