House of Commons Commission thanks staff for virtual Parliament strategy

06 April 2020

Parliamentary digital, broadcasting and procedural experts are working round the clock to develop a virtual House of Commons – if needed – for the end of the Easter recess, the House authorities were told. 

The plans would enable MPs to use videoconferencing tools to call in remotely to some parliamentary proceedings, to scrutinise Government during the Coronavirus lockdown. 

The aim would be for Members to be able to take part in question times – including Prime Minister’s Questions – urgent questions and ministerial statements. 

As the Commons is scheduled to return on 21 April, the Commission discussed that preparations would need to commence the week before – in order for House authorities to deliver any necessary arrangements. 

The possibilities were raised at the first virtual House of Commons Commission meeting chaired by the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who praised staff for developing solutions so quickly. 

“I am so impressed by the endeavours of our House staff, who have achieved so much in such a short space of time, despite their teams being reduced in numbers by self-isolation and sickness,” he said. 

“I really hope we can return to work virtually and safely after the 21st, subject to the advice of Public Health England.” 

The Commission was also told that thanks to staff who enabled virtual Select committees to take place during the recess, it would be possible to support as many as 20 virtual committee meetings a week from 20 April.  

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