MPs should be tested for coronavirus EVERY DAY to keep the House of Commons running, says Speaker Lindsay Hoyle
MPs should be tested for coronavirus every day to keep the House of Commons running, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said today.
Sir Lindsay said he wanted daily tests and temperature screening to help return the chamber to a more normal footing.
The suggestion – which would mean more frequent tests for politicians than NHS and care home staff – comes amid growing concern about the strict social distancing rules in place at the Commons.
A maximum of just 50 MPs can attend debates at once, and many Tory MPs have been pushing for the restrictions to be eased, complaining that they cannot get to speak and the proceedings lack energy.
Boris Johnson told Conservative backbenchers last week that he wanted to see Parliament ‘back to normal’ by Christmas.
However, Sir Lindsay said he and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg had ruled out the option of MPs wearing masks and making speeches while seated.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle (pictured in the Commons last week) said he wanted daily tests and temperature screening to help return the chamber to a more normal footing
A maximum of just 50 MPs can attend debates at once due to social distancing rules, and many Tory MPs have been pushing for the restrictions to be eased, complaining that they cannot get to speak and the proceedings lack energy
Boris Johnson (pictured at PMQs last week) has told Conservative backbenchers that he wants to see Parliament ‘back to normal’ by Christmas
In an interview on Times Radio, Sir Lindsay came close to dismissing Mr Johnson’s suggestion that normality could return by Christmas.
‘I’m glad he’s got a crystal ball. Mine’s not quite as clear as the Prime Minister’s. I’d like to believe everybody in this country will be back to normal by Christmas,’ he said.
‘I don’t quite see that, but if he knows something I don’t know, so be it. I want the chamber to come back. But I will not compromise health and safety.’
He added: ‘We are a Covid-secure workplace – if we were to lose that status, the game is over,’ he told the radio station.
‘It’s about working in an efficient way. If people don’t need to be here, why would we have them here.’
Sir Lindsay said he had asked for a testing system to be introduced for MPs.
‘To be quite honest with you, I’d like to do it daily, not weekly. The problem is weekly testing doesn’t tell you anything,’ he said.
‘I’ll be quite honest with you, I’ve made approaches to the NHS and Government to say, look, why can’t we have a testing system?
‘What we would need is a quick turnaround of tests in order that we can get MPs in.
‘We’re looking at it. I personally would have had the heat screening equipment in to test temperatures.’
He said Mr Rees-Mogg had agreed that asking MPs to wear a mask while on the green benches ‘really wouldn’t work’ as it would make recognition more difficult and be an obstacle to making speeches.
The Speaker also complained that Mr Johnson’s line of attack on Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs this week had made him feel uncomfortable.
The Speaker also complained that Mr Johnson’s line of attack on Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) at PMQs this week had made him feel uncomfortable
Mr Johnson accused Sir Keir of being a ‘leader of the Opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician’ – a reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s past campaigning – but Sir Lindsay intervened, calling on Mr Johnson to ‘try to answer the questions that have been put’ to him.
Sir Lindsay said: ‘To make accusations of people is not a good way forward. The chamber sets the tone, and that was not a good tone I wanted to see.
‘To accuse somebody of basically being a supporter of the IRA, someone who had actually prosecuted the IRA, was touching a nerve of something I didn’t quite like.
‘I wasn’t comfortable with it. If I’m not comfortable with it, how is the person who was receiving it? We’ve got to look at it in that way.’