The UK Parliament has been closed until Tuesday 21 April 2020 in an attempt to minimise the spread of the coronavirus at the Palace of Westminster. Emergency legislation was passed this week to deal with the pandemic and it was thought that the risk of spreading the virus was now too high by continuing to sit.
Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, said before the adjournment:
“There are things that we can learn and there is technology that we can bring in, but the fact is that we do not have the staff to carry out a lot of things that we want to happen at this moment. They are with us during the Easter break and we will see what we can do. Of course, we have been told time and again that there are certain measures we should have taken. Security-wise, we are not licensed. I make an appeal to the Leader of the House: Downing Street does have a licence, and if we could share that, it would enable our technology to move very quickly and give Members the reach that they need to become part of the virtual Parliament and virtual Select Committees. If that could be taken on board, I would be very grateful. Thank you, everybody. Please keep in touch with the leaders. A lot has been said tonight that must and will be taken on board. Thank you, everybody. I wish you well.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, had said earlier in the day:
“Hon. and right hon. Members will appreciate that I am announcing business as if this were business as usual. I am grateful to parliamentarians and parliamentary staff for coming together to support the completion of emergency legislation essential to fight covid-19, including the Contingencies Fund Bill that will allow expenditure of £260 billion on account. Once the Coronavirus Bill and Contingencies Fund Bill receive Royal Assent, and subject to the House’s agreement, Parliament will rise for the Easter recess later today.”