Matt Hancock was seen breaking social distancing rules just moments before joining Boris Johnson for Prime Minister’s Questions.
The health secretary walked up to a colleague in the main Commons chamber – straight into a taped area showing where MPs should avoid to maintain the two metre distance mandated by government coronavirus rules.
Mr Hancock was seen on camera putting his hand on the other MP’s shoulder, with the pair standing inches apart for around 10 seconds.
They are joined by another MP standing in a line filling the width of the pathway, before the first MP Mr Hancock encountered steps back, prompting the cabinet minister to sidestep towards the second MP.
He then retreats to the other side of the walkway.
Just minutes later, Mr Hancock went to sit on the frontbench to listen to Mr Johnson take questions from opposition leaders and backbenchers.
The encounter comes despite strict measures that are in place in parliament, designed to ensure MPs can socially distance in the chamber during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NHS guidance tells people to “stay at least two metres (three steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble) when outside your home”.
The Health and Safety Executive also tells employees: “In your workplace you need to observe, where possible, the social distancing guidance.”
A statement from the Commons authorities said: “The House’s priority is to ensure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated.
“Concerns about social distancing guidelines not being followed will be taken seriously.
“Everyone on the Parliamentary Estate has a responsibility to adhere to the guidance, and additional staff are on hand to remind people of the rules.”
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