The Speaker threatens to kick Matt Hancock out of the Commons for heckling

20 May 2020, 14:32

The Speaker of the House of Commons threatened to kick Matt Hancock out of the chamber during PMQs after he talked over Labour leader Keir Starmer.

The Health Secretary was told off by Lindsay Hoyle after he was heard advising the Prime Minister while the opposition leader was talking.

Mr Hoyle said he would be "more than happy" for him to leave the chamber and be replaced with someone else.

He told Mr Hancock: “Secretary of State for Health, please, I don’t mind you advising the Prime Minister but you don’t need to advise the opposition during this.”

After he continued to speak, the Speaker hit back: “Sorry, do you want to leave the Chamber?

“We’re at maximum numbers, if you want to give way to somebody else I’m more than happy.”

Matt Hancock was berated by the House of Commons Speaker during PMQs
Matt Hancock was berated by the House of Commons Speaker during PMQs. Picture: House of Commons

Prime Minister's Questions was busier in the chamber on Wednesday, with 45 MPs present, amid reports the Conservative Party wanted to bolster support for Boris Johnson after recent tough encounters with Sir Keir.

In the Commons, Mr Johnson announced that 312 NHS staff and social care workers have died from coronavirus - 181 NHS staff and 131 care workers.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg also confirmed Thursday sittings would resume in the Commons after the Whitsun recess.

The House has been operating on a three-day week from Monday to Wednesday recently.

The chamber will not sit on June 1, in line with recess arrangements, but will sit June 2, 3 and 4.

Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs: "Under the hybrid proceedings the time this House is able to spend debating legislation faces being cut by around two thirds - I am sure all members will agree that each and every one of the 36 Bills put forward by the Government in the Queen's Speech deserves the proper level of scrutiny.

Mr Hoyle said he would be "more than happy" for him to leave the chamber
Mr Hoyle said he would be "more than happy" for him to leave the chamber. Picture: House of Commons

"We have to recognise that if we persist with the present arrangement it will become harder to make progress in a timely fashion.

"That is why, in line with Government advice for those who cannot do their jobs from home, I am asking members to return to their place of work after Whitsun."

Mr Rees-Mogg added: "We will not be returning to the crowded, bustling chamber of old, we will be observing social distancing.

He said he was "reassured" on Tuesday by the progress being made in ensuring the parliamentary estate is "a Covid-19 secure workplace" and that MPs' staff will be "strongly advised to continue working from home".

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Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs: "Only yesterday Mr Speaker, you organised a test of a new system for divisions that will ensure members can vote whilst remaining six feet apart."

He added: "I would finally like to reassure those members with underlying health conditions who have been told to shield or are receiving specific Government advice about their health - we are working with the House authorities to see how they can continue to contribute to proceedings within the House."

But Labour said MPs and their staff should be allowed to continue to work from home, as per Government advice.