Understandably, many people are concerned about Members returning to the House, especially in regard to containing the spread of Covid-19 and voting. However, Parliament cannot hold the Government to account in an appropriate manner remotely, nor can it scrutinise legislation to the necessary degree. The actions taken by the Government and House Authorities to facilitate the return of normal proceedings in line with PHE guidance.
The Government was recently elected on a number of manifesto commitments which can only be brought into effect under physical proceedings. Under the hybrid Parliament, just 216 minutes of debate on primary legislation took place compared with the example of 648 minutes in a normal sitting week. The Government announced 36 Bills at the Queen’s Speech following the recent General Election and it is important that MPs have the time to examine and debate the proposals to the appropriate standard.
Actions have been taken to ensure the safety of MPs in the House. In order to maintain social distancing, MPs will sit two metres apart and limits will be placed on the number of MPs in the Chamber at any one time. This will ensure all Members in attendance are safe, and not at risk of contracting or spreading the virus should another Member test positive.