Speaker Lindsay Hoyle calls for ‘COVID-riddled’ Parliament to go VIRTUAL despite opposition from ministers as he ‘warns older MPs to stay away’ after ANOTHER politician tests positive
- Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 63, advised MPs to avoid making commute into Westminster
- Dame Margaret Hodge, 76, said Speaker had called the commons covid ‘riddled’
- A shadow culture minister Chris Matheson, 52, fell ill with covid-19 on Saturday
Older MPs are being urged to stay away from the House of Commons as the Speaker warns it is becoming ‘riddled’ with coronavirus again, with ‘nobody wearing masks’.
In a series of video calls this week Sir Lindsay Hoyle advised MPs to avoid making the commute into Westminster, especially if they are in the at-risk age bracket – there are 24 MPs over 70.
Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, 76, who has been arguing for virtual proceedings to return during the second wave of covid-19, said she had been told not to come in by Sir Lindsay as it is ‘too dangerous’.
The MP told The Times: ‘The Speaker told us his view is don’t come in now, it’s just too dangerous. The place is riddled with coronavirus again. The police have it, doorkeepers have it, and nobody is wearing masks.’
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 63, (pictured in the House of Commons) advised MPs to avoid making commute into Westminster
Dame Margaret added that commuting from their constituencies across the country to meet together before returning home was ‘not very clever’.
Over the weekend it was announced that 45 members of the parliamentary police force, Metropolitan Police officers, had tested positive.
Chris Matheson, 52, a shadow culture minister and MP for the City of Chester, also announced that he had fallen ill on Saturday and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
Announcing the diagnosis on his Facebook page, he wrote: ‘The symptoms aren’t very pleasant, but I don’t have it nearly as badly as many others.
Dame Margaret Hodge said that MPs commuting from their constituencies across the country to meet together before returning home was ‘not very clever’
‘I now have to stay at home and can’t attend Parliament in person, but will have a proxy vote which will be cast by one of the opposition whips on my behalf.
‘I am trying to rest as much as possible, though I will continue to try and answer my emails and my staff will still be working. I would like to thank them for keeping the show on the road, as they always do.
‘Once the symptoms are over, I will have to isolate but my team and I are still here. You must continue to get in touch if there is an issue that you need help with, and if I can’t deal with this in person my staff will be on hand to assist.’
Speaking to Times Radio Lindsey Hoyle said that MPs could become superspreaders of coronavirus if they don’t stop travelling from their constituencies.
He said: ‘MPs could easily become superspreaders because they come from all parts of the country…Whatever happens people’s lives matter most, their health comes first and people with certain medical conditions, people of a certain age…. My advice – and it’s advice not instructions – is put yourself first, look after yourself and make sure you are here for the long term…Do not put yourself at risk.’
Chris Matheson (pictured), a shadow culture minister and MP for the City of Chester, said he fell ill on Saturday and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19
Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a debate on public health regulation in the House of Commons in London. Tuesday October 13, 2020
A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s Office said: ‘The Speaker’s number one priority is the safety of MPs, their staff and House staff – and to ensure the parliamentary estate is Covid-secure.
‘The advice we have given all staff, which is to work from home if they can, is the same for MPs, particularly those who are under medical supervision.
‘As Covid cases are rising across the country, the last thing the Speaker wants to do is encourage MPs who are vulnerable to take risks by travelling into Parliament. This is exactly what he told a number of Members during a recent phone call.’
Mr Rees-Mogg has opposed the move back to virtual proceedings, claiming it would send the wrong message to the public.
At the height of the first wave in March the House of Commons was considered to be a hotbed of infection, with dozens of MPs forced to self-isolate.
In April Sir Lindsay made the same plea to all MPs, calling for Parliament to sit remotely using Zoom following Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock positive covid-19 diagnosis.
Despite this up to 50 MPs at a time have continued to sit in the chamber since June 2, with regular screening for the virus taking place.
Earlier this month MP Margaret Ferrier had the SNP whip withdrawn after travelling from parliament while awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test.
The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP was stripped of the nationalist party’s whip and faces mounting calls to resign her £80,000-per-year job after an 800-mile round trip between her constituency and London.
MPs over 70 years old and in the at-risk age bracket
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), MP for Islington North, 70
Sir George Howarth (Labour), MP for Knowsley, 70
Dame Margaret Beckett (Labour), MP for Derby South, 77
Tony Lloyd (Labour), MP for Rochdale, 70
John Spellar (Labour), MP for Warley, 72
Jack Dromey (Labour), MP for Birmingham Erdington, 71
Marie Rimmer (Labour), MP for St Helens South and Whiston, 72
Virendra Sharma (Labour), MP for Ealing Southall, 72
Graham Stringer (Labour), MP of Blackley and Broughton, 70
Dame Margaret Hodge (Labour), MP for Barking, 75
Clive Betts (Labour), MP for Sheffield South East, 70
Barry Sheerman (Labour Co-operative), MP for Huddersfield, 79
Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative), MP for Worthing West, 75
Sir Roger Gale (Conservative), MP for North Thanet, 76
Sir Bill Cash (Conservative), MP for Stone, 79
David Davis (Conservative), MP for Haltemprice and Howden, 71
Sir Paul Beresford (Conservative), MP for Mole Valley, 73
Gordon Henderson (Conservative), MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, 72
Sir Christopher Chope (Conservative), MP for Christchurch, 72
Sir Greg Knight (Conservative), MP for East Yorkshire, 70
Sir David Evennett (Conservative), MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, 70
Bob Stewart (Conservative), MP for Beckenham, 70
Pauline Latham (Conservative), MP for Mid Derbyshire, 72
Marion Fellows (SNP), MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, 70