Lord Speaker’s Statement

– in the House of Lords at 2:36 pm on 16 March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Fowler Lord Fowler Chair, House of Lords Commission, Lord Speaker, Chair, House of Lords Commission 2:36, 16 March 2020

My Lords, I would like to make a short statement about Parliament’s response to Covid-19.

I co-authored a letter with Mr Speaker on this subject and circulated it to all noble Lords on Friday. As we all know, the nation is facing an extremely challenging set of circumstances. The spread of Covid-19 has already begun to have widespread implications for the way the country is run and for individuals’ lives. Parliament is no different. Mr Speaker and I are resolved that Parliament should, in so far as is possible, continue to fulfil its important constitutional duties, but it is also our duty to take proportionate and reasonable measures to reduce the risk to those who work on the Parliamentary Estate and those who have to visit it.

It is in that spirit that we have decided to implement a number of restrictions relating to overseas travel and visitor access. These steps have been developed in conjunction with Public Health England and reflect the Government’s current approach. From today, all passholders should refrain from bringing non-passholders on to the estate unless they are here for parliamentary business. No banqueting or commercial tour bookings will be accepted; existing bookings have been cancelled and refunds will be issued. No mass lobbies will be allowed, and all-party parliamentary groups are asked not to invite non-passholding guests on to the estate. These restrictions are effective from today. Copies of the letter with details of the restrictions are available in the Printed Paper Office. Should noble Lords have specific queries, please feel free to speak with the Clerk of the Parliaments’ Office, which will be able to provide advice or direct you to the appropriate person or department.

I thank all noble Lords for their co-operation. As you would expect, Mr Speaker and I, together with our commissions, will continue to keep the situation under constant review. I will make further statements as necessary.