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Speaker rules board didn’t have authority to impose vaccine mandate in Commons

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WATCH: O'Toole says Conservatives will follow COVID-19 vaccine rule, but will challenge House mandate – Oct 27, 2021

House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota says the chamber’s governing body overstepped its authority when it required anyone entering the Commons precinct to be fully vaccinated.

Rota has sided with the Conservatives in concluding that the all-party board of internal economy did not have the authority to impose a vaccine mandate.

Read more: Conservatives call for all MPs to vote on House of Commons COVID-19 vaccine mandate

He said only the House itself can make a decision to restrict access to the chamber and other parliamentary buildings.

However, Rota’s ruling changes nothing for MPs or anyone else wanting access to the precinct.

Last week, Liberals and New Democrats joined forces to approve a motion to resume hybrid sittings, which also specified that anyone entering the precinct must be fully immunized against COVID-19 or have a valid medical exemption.

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Rota, who chairs the board of internal economy, says it’s important to consider the context of the board’s decision, which was taken before the Commons resumed sitting and was intended to keep people safe once they did return to work.

The Conservatives had the option to follow up on Rota’s ruling with a motion to either censure the board or refer the matter to a Commons committee. It chose not to move a motion and the Speaker’s office said later that Rota now considers the matter closed.

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