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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:04 pm on 25th March 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 1:04 pm, 25th March 2020

Scottish National party Members send their best wishes to the Duke of Rothesay, as he recovers from coronavirus.

I warmly welcome the decision that the House will adjourn for recess today. It is important that we set an example. We have been doing that in the way we sit in the Chamber, and it is now important that we return to our constituencies and, like everyone else, engage in social distancing, stay at home, and save lives. On behalf of SNP Members, especially the small number of us who have been here this week, I wish to extend our immense gratitude to all the House staff, including the Clerks, the security staff, the cleaners, and the catering staff. It has been a trying time for them all, and none of us would have been able to do our job without their support.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that any business listed for the week of 21 April must be extremely provisional. If Parliament is to be brought back when the crisis is continuing, that must be done in a way that respects whatever guidance is still in force regarding social distancing. As I said earlier in the week, it might be the case that anyone who comes to London from constituencies outside the metropolitan area will have to self-isolate when they go back to those constituencies, if the epicentre continues here, and we must bear those logistics in mind. I would be happy to share with him an absolutely first-class research briefing that the Library compiled about practices in other Parliaments elsewhere in the world and how they are dealing with this. We should thank the Library service for its work in these times.

I welcome the indication that there will be an opportunity to convene the Scottish Affairs and Liaison Committees and of an SNP Opposition day as soon as time realistically allows. Finally, I echo the call of Valerie Vaz about parliamentary questions. In particular, I wonder whether Members who tabled a named day question that would have been answered when the House was sitting—tomorrow, Friday, Monday or Tuesday—might still have those questions answered, and whether some provision will be thought about if we are into an extended period of closure beyond that.