Prime Minister Questions will take place using a new “hybrid” format today after politicians passed a landmark bill to create a virtual Parliament amid the coronavirus pandemic. Politicians will use Zoom for the first time ever today to beam into proceedings from their homes. So what time is PMQs today and how can you watch?
A motion was passed on Tuesday to support Parliament functioning virtually from Wednesday.
MPs and Peers are now able to hold Commons and Lords debates using video conferencing.
Additionally work is underway to enable a means of voting online.
A skeleton crew of MPs, including Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, will attend the Commons in person where possible.
However, for the most part, debates will be conducted online.
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Oral questions, including PMQs today, will take palace during the two hours of each sitting day by video link.
Previously speaking on the unprecedented hybrid proceeding proposals Sir Lindsay said: “It will be a historic moment in our 700-year history to have MPs contributing to Prime Minister’s Questions, urgent questions and statements via video link from the safety of their own homes and offices.
“If it works, the House will consider extending the measures to a fully virtual Parliament as quickly as possible to include debates on motions and legislation and even a system of remote voting.”
Today’s PMQs will be Sir Keir Starmer’s first time participating as the Labour Party’s leader.
Sir Keir will go head-to-head with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is recovering from coronavirus.
These two politicians will be in the Commons today, while up to 120 MPs will be able to participate in the proceedings via videolink.
A maximum of 50 MPs will be permitted in the Commons chamber in person at any one time, however, this number is expected to be significantly below this limit.
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The new virtual Parliament model is expected to cost £148,793 to set up and £369,267 to run each month according to the Commons authorities.
Originally, Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner had been thought to face Mr Raab today as is the protocol when the Prime Minister is away.
However, given the exceptional circumstances, it is understood Sir Keir will participate on Wednesday.
A Labour source told the Mirror: “Raab is acting PM, so this isn’t a usual situation. It’s more important than ever Labour… hold the Government to account.”
What time is PMQs today? How to watch live
The Commons will continue to meet at its usual sittings times, but will now only take place on Monday, from 2.30pm and from 11.30am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The first item of Commons business on Wednesday will be questions for the Secretary of State for Wales from 11.30am followed by PMQ’s at noon.
Screens will be placed around the Commons chamber to enable the Speaker and MPs present in the Commons to be able to see their homeworking colleagues.
MPs wishing to participate int proceedings will need to notify the House of Service in advance after which there will be a planned order for those chosen to be called on.
It is also thought there will be a Ministerial Statement from the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
After Mr Hancock’s statement, Garston and Halewood MP Maria Eagle is due to present a 10-minute rule motion.
Ten-minute rule motions enable backbench MPs to make their case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes.
How to watch PMQs live
You can watch the proceedings on the Parliament’s YouTube channel here.
Another option is to watch PMQs live on TV on BBC Parliament.
You can also watch BBC Parliament on the iPlayer from noon.
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