Virtual parliament to be set up during coronavirus lockdown

A VIRTUAL parliament is to be set up during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a bid to keep Britain running, MPs plan to meet up online to stop them breaching social distancing rules and spreading the infection even further.

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Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the historic move, which could even kick in by April 21 when MPs are due to return.

He said: “Parliament’s role of scrutinising government, authorising spending and making laws must be fulfilled and in these unprecedented times that means considering every technological solution available. We are exploring options with the parliamentary authorities in readiness for parliament’s return.”

The plan comes after opposition parties and the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle called for Government scrutiny to continue despite the outbreak.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Hoyle said virtual select committee hearings were already happening, and it was time for the Commons to step up.

He wrote: “Once the house returns, if we are still in the grip of the crisis where the physical presence of members, or too many members, in the palace is not appropriate, I am keen that they should be able to participate in key parliamentary proceedings virtually, for example oral questions, urgent questions, statements.

“The House Service has already trialled some virtual select committee evidence sessions with witnesses, and I have asked officials to investigate how they would apply similar technology to the types of business listed above.”

The Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have already been diagnosed with the virus, and a number of other MPs are self-isolating.

Britain's death toll rose by more than 500 yesterday – and is predicted to hit 1,000 a day by the weekend.

It comes as Boris Johnson vowed to end the coronavirus lockdown with testing for as many people as possible – after a huge day of chaos over ordering kits.

The PM told the nation for the first time that the Government's exit strategy did involve a mass roll-out of testing – even though Britain is still not doing 10,000 a day.

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