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House of Commons Staff: Covid-19 Secure Workplace

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

What steps the Commission is taking to ensure a covid-19 secure workplace for House of Commons staff following the lifting of restrictions on 19 July 2021. (903210)

The House of Commons Commission has ensured that the House service has implemented the “Working safely during coronavirus” guidance to ensure that we remain a covid-secure workplace. At every stage of the Government’s road map, or when updated guidance has been published, the parliamentary covid risk assessment has been reviewed and updated to ensure that the appropriate mitigations are put in place.

I echo your repeated thanks, Mr Speaker, to the members of staff of the House of Commons, who do so much to ensure the smooth and safe proceedings of the House.

Members of the House travel extensively to our constituencies and within our constituencies. Being gregarious is almost a job requirement—we meet lots of people—yet there is no requirement on us to wear a mask in this place. Will the hon. Member give further consideration to what requirements can be placed on Members of this House to better protect those who do so much to protect us?

I would like to thank the staff as well. We are all gregarious—not just Members of Parliament, but House staff. I hope that when they are not looking after us, they are out enjoying the restaurants, clubs and bars of London that are reopening. Of course, our protective embrace cannot cover them there. However, face coverings remain one of the many mitigations available to the House to manage the risk of covid. The Commission continues to support their use, in line with national guidance, but the Speaker has no power to prevent democratically elected Members from coming on to the estate or into the Chamber when the House is sitting. There is therefore no meaningful way to enforce a requirement on Members to wear a face covering in the Chamber, but they are strongly encouraged to do so.