COVID-19 proceedings: Westminster Hall
Westminster Hall debates resumed on Monday 8 March 2021 enabling MPs to particpate in proceedings either physically or virtually.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic sittings in Westminster Hall were suspended in March 2020. Westminster Hall debates resumed between 5 October 2020 and 14 January 2021, enabling MPs to particpate in debates if physically present.
On 25 February 2021, the House of Commons agreed a motion to resume sittings in Westminster Hall from Monday 8 March 2021. MPs could particpate in Westminster Hall debates either physically or virtually for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The debates took place in the Boothroyd Room instead of the usual Grand Committee Room to better facilitate these temporary hybrid proceedings. The move marked the first time Westminster Hall debates were held outside of the Grand Committee Room since 2014, when Committee Room 10 briefly hosted the debates.
Timings of Westminster Hall debates
Whilst the temporary arrangements were in place to facilitate hybrid proceedings, slight changes were made to the regular time slots of debates in Westminster Hall. The time between each debate allowed for MPs to safely enter and leave the Chamber and for any cleaning to take place.
There were no three-hour debates while the temporary arrangements were in place.
- 4.30pm - 6pm
- 6.15pm - 7.45pm
Tuesday and Wednesday
- 9.25am - 10.55am
- 11am - 11.30am
- 2.30pm - 4pm
- 4.05pm - 4.35pm
- 4.50pm - 5.50pm
- 1.30pm - 3pm
- 3.15pm - 4.45pm
Westminster Hall debates held on a Monday afternoon are usually chosen by the Petitions Committee. Debates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are adjournment debates and debates held on a Thursday afternoon are usually chosen by the Backbench Business Committee.
Arrangements were in place to ensure that proceedings complied with public health guidance. Social distancing measures were in place in the Boothroyd Room and, in order to facilitate this, there was a limit of twenty MPs allowed in the room at any one time.
Call lists are lists of the MPs that were invited to speak during a debate. They assisted the Chair in managing attendance while social distancing measures were in place. There were call lists in place during 60-minute and 90-minute debates in Westminster Hall.
Call lists were not required for 30-minute debates. MPs wishing to speak in these debates were required to contact the Minister, the MP in charge of the debate and the Speaker's Office in the usual way.