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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, March 19, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 19 March 2020

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Portfolio Question Time, Covid-19 (Education), United Kingdom Coronavirus Legislation, Business Motion, Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill, Point of Order, Business Motions, Decision Time


Point of Order

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. We all appreciate the steps that you and your team have taken to help the Parliament to continue to do its work while putting in place safety measures for MSPs and workers during the Covid-19 crisis. However, although all MSPs are advising the public to maintain social distancing, that same public can see on its television screens members of the Scottish Parliament crammed next to each other in the chamber, less than a metre apart, even though some members are already absent and self-isolating.

I, therefore, ask you, the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to consider whether to put in place measures to ensure that MSPs maintain a safe distance in Parliament, not only to protect their own health, but also to contain the spread of the disease and to send a clear message to the general public about the importance of social distancing.

I thank Joan McAlpine for advance notice of her point of order.

I confirm that members of the corporate body and the bureau are conscious of the importance of such health matters. In fact, the bureau considered that very matter this afternoon.

As I outlined at close of business on Tuesday, all our decisions are consistent with public health advice, and are designed to minimise the impact of Covid-19, with a view to safely and sustainably delivering essential parliamentary business.

In relation to attendance in the chamber, although I do not wish to prevent members from participating in business, I am content that they are not required to be present in the chamber unless they are participating in the current item of business. I am confident that we have sufficient capacity in the chamber to allow members to maintain a safe distance, and I invite members to apply their own common sense on this matter.