Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:11 am, 9th January 2020

Rhondda always wants to chip in. We might have thought that, after a little peace and quiet over Christmas, Rhondda would have calmed down, but no such luck. Because there is so much business to be brought forward, and that will depend on the progress of business. That is a completely normal approach.

As for sitting Fridays, we have only just had the ballot, but of course we will bring those forward, and the motion, as soon as is practicable. On the machinery of Government changes, I got a little bit worried by a memo that said, “MOG changes”. I am not necessarily so keen on such changes; I am rather used to being the Mogg that I am. However, I can absolutely assure the right hon. Lady that any changes that are made will lead to consultation with the Opposition about any changes to Committees. It is hoped that the motion in relation to the sharing out of the Committees will be put on the Order Paper by the end of business today. That is not an absolute promise, but I understand that good progress has been made on coming to an agreement.

I am indeed grateful to Ian Mearns for passing on a list of overhanging proposals from the Backbench Business Committee for debates. Whether there will be a lot of time for non-legislative business in the next few weeks, I am not absolutely certain, but it is useful to have that and to be aware of it.

The Budget date—giving people plenty of notice—is perfectly reasonable. I make announcements about the business for a week or possibly for two weeks; I do not intend to announce the business for March, so I think it would be unusual for me to be announcing that. I do hope that in this Session of Parliament my appearances at the Dispatch Box will be once a week to set out the business, rather than once or twice a day, which I think was beginning to pall on everybody in the House.

The IR35 review is extraordinarily important. It is a matter of concern to many of our constituents, and something that came up in the election on a number of occasions. It is important that it is done in such a way that people know what their tax affairs will be in April.

On the takeover of Cobham, the Government have to act within the legal parameters and the approach that we generally take to takeovers, and announcements must be made punctually. Sometimes when the House is in recess announcements still have to be made. Saying it was done just before Christmas is not a reasonable criticism, because business goes on.

May I share in the right hon. Lady’s condolences to Andrew Miller’s family? It is always sad when we lose a distinguished former Member of this House who has invariably been influential and important in the careers of existing Members.

There is indeed a statement coming on the Australian bushfires. I think all of us feel the deepest sympathy for the people of Australia, who for so many of us are kith and kin, and there is therefore always a particular concern with what is happening in Australia.

The Ukrainian plane crash is something that needs to be investigated thoroughly so that we find out what the cause was. Our concern is for the British citizens, but also for all the lives that were lost.

As always, I am so glad that once again the right hon. Lady reminds us about Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and of course all the other dual nationals who are held improperly, unlawfully by the Iranian regime. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Iranian Government on 6 January. The Government are doing everything that we can to secure her release and that of others, but the Government’s power, regrettably, is not unlimited in this area.