The House of Commons is to reduce its sitting hours when it returns next week.
There will be no proceedings in the Commons chamber on Thursdays or Fridays for the foreseeable future as Parliament take steps to safely continue its work during the Coronavirus pandemic. MPs would usually sit in the chamber from Monday to Thursday, and on some occasions on a Friday to debate private members bills.
Under plans approved by the House of Commons Commission, some of the business of Parliament is set to go ‘virtual’ for the first time in the Commons’ 700-year history, with only 50 MPs to be allowed in the Commons chamber at any one time under social distancing rules.
Under the plans, which still need to be approved by MPs, ministers would be quizzed via Zoom, with screens to be erected in the Commons chamber to enable ministers to respond to questions over video link. If approved, MPs should be able to ask questions from home, without needing to travel to Parliament.
Legislation that had been due to be debated next week has been postponed. Moving forward, other business may also be put back to allow the focus to be prioritised towards Coronavirus legislation and questions.
The House of Commons is due to return on Tuesday (21 April) following the Easter break. It will sit on Tuesday and Wednesday in the upcoming week, and then on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays after that until further notice.