House of Lords: Coronavirus

The Senior Deputy Speaker written question – answered on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Truscott Lord Truscott Non-affiliated

To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what plans there are to ban visitors to the House of Lords.

Photo of Lord McFall of Alcluith Lord McFall of Alcluith Chair, Freedom of Information Advisory Panel (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Sub-Committee on Leave of Absence, The Senior Deputy Speaker, Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords)

An initial set of measures to reduce visitor access to the House of Lords and the wider Parliamentary Estate, as part of the Parliamentary response to Covid-19, were introduced from Monday 16 March. These were as follows:

  • No new banqueting bookings to be accepted. Existing bookings taking place from Monday 16 March onwards have been cancelled but deposits will be refunded.
  • No new commercial tour bookings to be accepted. Existing bookings taking place from Monday 16 March onwards have been cancelled but tickets will be refunded.
  • Events in Westminster Hall or in the larger Committee Rooms (known as ‘mass lobbies’) are not being facilitated during the period.
  • In order to limit numbers, APPGs are not to invite non-passholding guests on to the Parliamentary Estate.
  • All pass holders, including Members, are not to bring non-passholding guests on to the Parliamentary Estate who are visiting for non-Parliamentary business-related purposes or for social purposes.

Subsequently the Speakers and political leadership agreed further restrictions, which came into force on Tuesday 17 March. These extended to cover the exclusion of non-essential visitors from coming onto the Parliamentary estate, including member tours, school visits, visitors to the galleries of both Houses (save the press gallery), and democratic access tours. Currently, visitors on official business continue to be allowed onto the Estate. This includes civil servants briefing Ministers and committee witnesses.

These measures will last until further notice, and the Lord Speaker and political leadership of the House are keeping matters under review.

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