MPs forced to leave Commons to allow for 'extra cleaning'

16 November 2020, 20:02

The House of Commons was briefly closed for extra cleaning
The House of Commons was briefly closed for extra cleaning. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

MPs were forced to leave the House of Commons chamber after a debate was suspended to allow "extra cleaning".

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton halted proceedings on the Pension Schemes Bill before two cleaners in white full-body personal protective clothing entered the chamber.

They cleaned the frontbenches before the sitting resumed 10 minutes later.

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Addressing the House, Dame Rosie said: "I'm going to suspend the House for a short time, probably for five or 10 minutes to allow some extra cleaning to take place.

"If honourable and right honourable members could leave the chamber please."

After MPs returned to the chamber, the SNP's Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) made a point of order to ask why there was a necessity for further cleaning to be carried out.

Dame Rosie told the Commons: "We were asked to suspend the House just to ensure there was a little bit of extra cleaning. I don't have any further information other than that.

"But I'm sure it's precautionary and if anything further members need to be informed of, I'm sure they will be."

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Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg had earlier insisted Parliament is a "Covid-safe environment" as he defended the Government's refusal to allow all MPs to contribute to debates virtually via Zoom.

House officials tend to wipe down the despatch boxes after each section of business has concluded in the Commons.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would be going into coronavirus self-isolation after being in contact with an MP who has the virus.

A further ten Tory MPs are also now self-isolating after attending a breakfast meeting with Boris Johnson where one attendee, MP Lee Anderson, tested positive for coronavirus.

Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the PM is "firing on all cylinders".

The Health Secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari the Prime Minister will continue to work but will carry out more meetings via Zoom over the next couple of weeks.

Mr Hancock said: "He's going to be firing on all cylinders this week, I can tell that.

"I haven't spoken to him directly, he's also posted, and I know that anyway, probably the majority of the times I see him, I see him on Zoom anyway, on video conference.

"It's just more effective that way anyway, but he'll be having to do more of that over the next couple of weeks."

Boris Johnson tweeted that he was "in good health and have no symptoms" after being instructed to self-isolate.

In a video posted to Twitter he said: "Hi folks, the good news is that NHS Test and Trace is working ever-more efficiently, but the bad news is that they've pinged me and I've got to self isolate because someone I was in contact with a few days ago has developed Covid.

"It doesn't matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn't matter that I'm fit as a butcher's dog, feel great - so many people do in my circumstances.

"And actually it doesn't matter that I've had the disease and I'm bursting with antibodies. We've got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self isolating for 14 days when contacted by Test and Trace."