Unions urge Speaker of Commons to take tougher lines on unmasked MPs | House of Commons

Commons spokeswoman Sir Lindsay Hoyle has faced calls to urge MPs to wear masks in the room, after cabinet ministers and several Tory backbenchers steer clear of advice during a packed eight-hour debate on Afghanistan.

Although masks stopped being mandatory in most settings on July 19, the government’s guideline that masks should work in “tight and enclosed spaces” remains in place, and the rules set by the parliamentary authorities said they should be worn in the main debate space. .

Four union representitives representing parliamentary staff wrote to Hoyle on Thursday expressing concerns that scenes of unoccupied politicians sitting shoulder to shoulder on green banks represent “the strongest example. but in the unwillingness of a significant number of MPs to take the most basic of precautionary measures to help protect personnel ”.

They said the “dismissal” was insulting and also claimed there was confusion about who was responsible for “ensuring a safe working environment in parliament”, after spokesman Boris Johnson said questions about policies on masks in the Commons and Lords are “something for the authority of parliament”.

The Guardian may reveal that there has been an “increase” in Covid cases with security workers around the estate over the past two weeks. As a result, the new guidance was issued the day after parliament returned for a day to recall it, telling security staff they should be tested on Saturday at the latest.

They were also told to wear a face mask at all times unless excluded and maintain social distance, despite the legal 2-meter requirement that also collapsed last month.

Prospect union general secretary Mike Clancy, said it was “deliberately misleading and presumptuous” by Johnson’s spokesman to suggest that it was up to parliamentary authority to mandate the use of the mask, rather than up to individual MPs. show personal responsibility.

He said: “The Speaker has made it very clear that he expects MPs to wear masks, and the Prospect has written to all MPs asking them to take this major step to protect personnel, a step which the PM himself described as just ‘simple courtesy’ last month.

“The unions will not stand while the staff is at risk of reckless politicians, and following this embarrassment we again ask the Speaker to take a tougher line on MPs when parliament returns to the next moon. “

There are some notable exceptions in the wide areas of Tory backbenchers who choose not to wear masks. Those who wore masks included former prime minister Theresa May and the head of the committee for health Jeremy Hunt.

A Commons spokesman said: “Our priority is to ensure a safe and functioning parliament that complies with government regulations. Passengers must continue to be vigilant when they are on the estate and of course, we will monitor the situation. everyday. “

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