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Business without Debate

Volume 689: debated on Thursday 25 February 2021

Sittings in Westminster Hall During the Pandemic


The following provisions shall be made and have effect from 8 until 30 March:

(1) The Order of the House of 23 September (Sittings in Westminster Hall (Resumption)) is hereby rescinded.

(2) Sittings in Westminster Hall shall be held in a Committee Room designated for the purpose by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

(3) Members may participate in proceedings in Westminster Hall by electronic means under arrangements approved by the Chairman of Ways and Means, and such arrangements may include provision about the arrangement and timing of debates, including alteration of the times referred to in Standing Order No. 10 at which sittings are scheduled to begin or end.

(4) The Chair of a sitting in Westminster Hall may direct that a sitting be suspended to enable the necessary technical arrangements for virtual participation to be made or on public health grounds; the time taken for any such suspension shall be added to the period of three hours mentioned in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 10 in the same manner as a suspension under paragraph (3) of that Standing Order.

(5) The Chair of a sitting in Westminster Hall may limit the number of Members present at a sitting of the House in Westminster Hall at any one time.

(6) No sitting of the House in Westminster Hall shall take place on a day when a Public Bill Committee is expected to meet for the purpose of hearing oral evidence under the provisions of Standing Order No. 84A(3) in the Committee Room designated under paragraph (2) of this Order.—(Mike Freer.)

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Is it possible to put on the record the support and solidarity of the Scottish National party and the people of Scotland with the people of Wales? I wanted to take the opportunity that is normally afforded to us in the St David’s Day debate to say that, because my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Richard Thomson) was keen to do so, but it did not quite arise. That did mean, however, that a couple of other Welsh colleagues were able to speak. I just wanted to assure the House, and anyone from Wales who is paying attention, of that continued solidarity and to wish them all the best for their national day.

You have done that supremely well. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i chi gyd—happy St David’s Day to you all.

Along with all other Members, I too pass on my deepest condolences on behalf of Mr Speaker and all the friends of Dr Hywel Francis here in Parliament to his family. As the Secretary of State for Wales said, Hywel was one of those Members who, irrespective of party divide, would reach out and become a friend. He was instrumental—pushing, as he did—in me getting an honorary degree from Swansea University, for which I will be eternally grateful. He reached out to me, a Conservative. That was the mark of Hywel Francis, and I send our condolences to his family once again.