Call to review Parliament health and safety risks after security worker’s death
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Health and safety risks in Parliament should be reassessed due to a security worker dying after contracting Covid-19, MPs have urged.
Tributes have poured in for father-of-two Godfrey Cameron, 55, who MPs said showed “selfless care for others” and was a “hard-working” member of parliamentary security staff.
The SNP’s Chris Stephens has now tabled a motion in the Commons asking the House authorities to work with trade union officials to carry out an “updated risk assessment” in relation to health and safety on the parliamentary estate.
The MP for Glasgow South West added they must take “all appropriate measures” to help keep staff safe. His motion has been supported by a further 25 MPs, including Labour former shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
The House of Commons has insisted Parliament is a “Covid-19 secure workplace”, adding it continues to meet all Government guidance and its measures have been supported by Public Health England (PHE).
This statement came after Labour frontbencher Valerie Vaz on Wednesday told MPs that public health officials were “ready to close” Parliament before Christmas given the high numbers of people on the estate.
She told a debate: “I think it’s fair to say that public health was so concerned about what was happening on the estate – the number of people who were coming – before Christmas, they were ready to close us down.”
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the same debate that the House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the administration and services of the House, takes “seriously” its duty of care to those who work in the building and has been guided by PHE advice.
Remote participation in the Commons was extended after Christmas to cover debates in a bid to limit numbers on the estate, with face masks now advised to be worn in the chamber following a surge in Covid-19 infection rates across the country.
He is a model of the type of service we are fortunate to have in this House
The motion from Mr Stephens states: “That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hard-working member of parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting Covid-19.
“(The House) extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and Renee, his sisters Arlene and Cynthia, his brother Carlton, and fellow members of the PCS.
“(The House) notes that Godfrey was a private man who showed selfless care for others, hoped to retire to his late parents’ homeland of Jamaica and was a fanatical fan of Liverpool FC.
“(The House) sends our deepest sympathies to all those who knew and worked with Godfrey, and our heartfelt thanks for the contribution of all those workers who have continued to serve the public during this public health crisis.
“And calls on the House authorities to work with trade union representatives to undertake an updated risk assessment in relation to health and safety on the parliamentary estate, and take all appropriate measures to help keep staff safe.”
On Thursday, Sir Lindsay and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg led tributes to Mr Cameron.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “He was an heroic figure. He managed to stop a young lady jumping off Westminster Bridge. He is a model of the type of service we are fortunate to have in this House.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We are all deeply saddened at PCS by the loss of Godfrey.
“He was a hard-working, dedicated member of our parliamentary security branch who was devoted to his job and his colleagues across Parliament.
“It is imperative the Government resumes a remote, virtual parliament to protect staff from contracting Covid-19, which has caused over 80,000 deaths in the UK alone.”
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