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House of Commons Commission decisions – 16 April 2020

17 April 2020


  • The Speaker, in the Chair
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Valerie Vaz
  • Sir Charles Walker
  • Dame Rosie Winterton
  • Pete Wishart
  • Dr John Benger (Clerk of the House)
  • Ian Ailles (Director General)
  • Jane McCall (External member)
  • Dr Rima Makarem (External member)


1.   Operating model for "hybrid" Chamber business

The Commission endorsed preparations for the introduction of an operating model on Wednesday 22 April that would allow Members to participate in proceedings either virtually or physically in the Chamber, and which would ensure equality of treatment as far as practicable between those two forms of participation.

Subject to approval by the House on Tuesday 21 April, the operating model will apply initially only to Oral Questions, Urgent Questions and Oral Statements for a period of up to 2 hours at the start of business.

The Commission endorsed preparations to expand the model to other proceedings, including motions and legislation, and to produce a secure system to facilitate remote divisions as soon as possible. The introduction of any such changes would be subject to the approval of the House.

The Commission agreed that any new arrangements would be kept under regular review, including by the Procedure Committee.

A statement issued by the Commission is available here.

2.   House Service planning assumptions for week commencing 20 April

The Commission endorsed the following planning assumptions to enable the House Service’s preparations for the week commencing 20 April:

  • That the House will approve the operating model for “hybrid” Chamber business for introduction on Wednesday 22 April;
  • That any business not included in the “hybrid” model will continue with physical participation only;
  • That all physical participation in the Chamber will be on a “socially distanced” model, under arrangements made by Mr Speaker;
  • That previous decisions on access will continue to apply with arrangements broadly similar to those in place before the Easter recess;
  • That catering and other services will continue to be provided, subject to restrictions, and operated in line with Public Health England guidance.

3.   Papers to note

The Commission took note of the papers:

  • Letter from the TUS
  • National Cyber Security Centre guidance on the use of Zoom
  • Mr Speaker’s letter to Members on virtual Chamber preparations

4.   Any other business


5.   Date of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Commission/MEC will take place on Monday 27 April at 10.00 am via Microsoft Teams.

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