Civil Service Canteens Close, MPs Keep Four Subsidised Restaurants Going

Last week Guido revealed MPs were to receive a major boost to their monthly credit card limit, taking them up to £10,000, to deal with Coronavirus. On top of this major cash boost, yesterday Sir Lindsay informed our public servants that whilst the sale of alcohol on the Parliamentary estate has come to an end, they still have access to no fewer than four restaurants and food outlets, namely:

  • Tea room
  • Terrace cafeteria
  • Debate
  • Despatch Box

The retaining of such  for MPs hasn’t gone unnoticed in Whitehall, where, by contrast, civil servants in the Cabinet Office have had both their food outlets closed. With all other catering outlets, including Greggs, in Westminster closed, Civil Servants, will be hungry for this pandemic to be over…

mdi-timer March 24 2020 @ 16:35 24 Mar 2020 @ 16:35 mdi-comment View Comments
Confirmed: Boundary Review at 650

MPs will be breathing a sigh of relief later on as Guido can reveal a Written Ministerial Statement will confirm the heavily a rumoured and lobbied for change of remit for the Boundary Commission. As Guido pointed to in January, the Government has now officially decided to maintain the number of seats in the Commons at 650, rather than Cameron’s 2010 promise of reducing the number to 600. The statement will justify the retention of 50 extra seats on the basis of the 73 UK MEPs losing theirs, and an alleged increased workload on MPs. This, of course, dubiously rests on the assumption that the work MEPs did was consequential…

UPDATE: The statement has now been published:

“This is a change in policy from the position previously legislated for under the Coalition Government. Since that policy was established in the Coalition Agreement, the United Kingdom has now left the European Union. The UK Parliament will have a greater workload now we are taking back control and regaining our political and economic independence. It is therefore sensible for the number of parliamentary constituencies to remain at 650.”

mdi-timer March 24 2020 @ 15:03 24 Mar 2020 @ 15:03 mdi-comment View Comments
Sunak Assures Support for Self-Employed is Coming

Sunak reassured the Commons this morning that he hasn’t forgotten about the self-employed, who at the moment only have statutory sick pay to fall back on during the coronavirus disruption. Responding to the SNP’s employment spokesman Richard Thomson, Sunak said that whilst there is no easy solution to supporting them – unlike payroll workers – a package is coming:

“Partly the issue is of course there are people whose incomes have been enormously impacted by what is going on currently, but there are also millions of people who are self-employed whose incomes may not have been impacted and indeed might be increasing. 

The ability of the government to distinguish between those people based on tax returns over a year and a half out-of-date poses some very significant challenges in terms of fairness and responsibility”

He won’t be drawn on when we might expect the new measures to be announced…

mdi-timer March 24 2020 @ 12:06 24 Mar 2020 @ 12:06 mdi-comment View Comments
Lindsay Hoyle Introduces New Social-Distancing Voting

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle updated the House today on new rules to deal with Coronavirus. Guido has compiled a handy list:

  • Parliament advises members and staff to work remotely where possible
  • Social distancing in the chamber
  • Video conferencing for committee proceedings being worked on as a matter of priority over the Easter Recess.
  • Number of catering areas have been closed. Only the tea room, terrace cafeteria, members, debate, and dispatch box, remain open. Social distancing is being implemented in the venues and takeaway options encouraged.
  • Sale of alcohol in House of Commons has been ended.
  • Divisions will now have staggered alphabetical entry for members. A division may now take between 30 and 40 minutes to take place in this way.
  • Members must think twice before putting down multiple questions.
  • Further changes may be needed.

The Commons continues trying to limp on as the country shuts down…

mdi-timer March 23 2020 @ 16:13 23 Mar 2020 @ 16:13 mdi-comment View Comments
Government to Attach Six Month Check Amendment to Emergency Legislation

To the relief of almost everyone across the political divide – from Labour MPs to David Davis, from The Guardian to Robert Peston – it has emerged this morning that the Government will add extra checks to its emerging Coronavirus legislation via an amendment being tabled this afternoon. Even with an 80 seat majority, they can still be bowed to pressure…

The emergency legislation, which already had a sunset clause of two years, will now require a review by MPs every six months. Given the bill gives the power to the police to detain people and place them in isolation, and enforce a national quarantine, it is the bare minimum requirement…

mdi-timer March 23 2020 @ 11:05 23 Mar 2020 @ 11:05 mdi-comment View Comments
Rees-Mogg: if Piers Morgan Wants to Say “Silly Things and Look Foolish” it’s up to Him

Unsurprisingly, when Jacob Rees-Mogg used business questions this morning to call out misinformation being spread by one specific provocative commentator, Piers was never going to take it lying down. Since Mogg’s comments, the GMB presenter has hit back on Twitter:

Guido wonders whether ITV plans on following the BBC’s lead and slimming down certain programmes during the outbreak…

mdi-timer March 19 2020 @ 15:30 19 Mar 2020 @ 15:30 mdi-comment View Comments
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