The BBC‘s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said a date has been put in for a “managed return” of Parliament, hinting at when the UK’s coronavirus lockdown could be lifted. She posted on Twitter: “Clarification – a date has been put in for April 21st for Parliament to return to vote on the Finance Bill and some kind of managed return if that’s possible.”
Ms Kuenssberg also revealed Parliament is expected to close early tonight after emergency coronavirus laws have been passed.
She added: “Parliament expected to close tonight after emergency corona laws have been passed and granted royal assent – understand motions have been tabled already for House to rise until an unknown time.”
But Ms Kuenssberg said although MPs could return on April 21, Parliament could be suspended again on the same day.
She posted: “Nothing finalised but likely to be smaller groups of MPs and only doing govt business – meanwhile MPs working frantically to try help constituents – remember just because not in Chamber doesn’t mean they are not working
“Could suspend again that day but govt looking at plans to make something work – no one expects it to be normal.”
Parliament was due to close for a three-week Easter break from March 31, but a motion on Wednesday’s order paper proposes that it starts a week early, as fears grow that politicians and staff are being put at risk of catching COVID-19 by continuing to work there.
It had already closed to visitors and reduced the number of MPs allowed in the House of Commons chamber to allow them to sit more spaced out in accordance with guidance on social distancing.
The news comes after House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle said any votes which took place would be adapted to avoid the usual process, which can see hundreds of MPs crammed into a narrow room together as they are counted through.
Housing minister Robert Jenrick said that while most MPs wanted parliament to continue sitting to scrutinise the government, it was also important to protect the staff who work there.
He told BBC TV: “I am certain that parliament will return after the Easter holidays and I think it is really important, however deep and serious this crisis is, that parliament in some form continues to operate.”
The upper chamber, the House of Lords, is expected to approve emergency legislation on Wednesday giving authorities sweeping powers to tackle the growing coronavirus outbreak.