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Speaker's Statement

Volume 675: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2020

Yesterday, the House agreed to a motion to allow Members to participate virtually in proceedings of the House, for the first time in 700 years of history of the House of Commons. I would like to welcome everyone, both Members joining us remotely from their constituencies up and down the UK and Members here in the Chamber, to the first hybrid sitting of the House of Commons. I thank hon. Members who are present in the Chamber for continuing to observe the guidance that has been issued about social distancing, in relation not only to each other, but to the staff of the House who are in the Chamber, and indeed myself.

Before we begin, I want to place on record that parliamentary privilege applies on the same basis to all Members participating, regardless of whether they are contributing virtually or are present in the Chamber. Also, of course, the same rules and courtesies apply to Members participating virtually, as far as is practicable, as they do to the Members participating physically. Members present in the Chamber should not rise in their places to catch my eye but wait to be called, although they should then stand to speak—if they are in the Chamber.

We will begin with questions to the Secretary of State for Wales. I will call each Question and ask the Secretary of State to respond before calling the Member. I first call the Minister to answer the substantive Question tabled by Marco Longhi, whose birthday it is today.