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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 16th 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 10:30 am, 16th January 2020

I am well aware of the constitutional convention regarding the length of a Session, and the Session, as with all Sessions, will depend on the progress of business, but as this one has only just started, it is perhaps a bit premature to see its ending.

With regard to the ministerial code and courtesy, the normal courtesy is that a Member informs another Member of a visit to a constituency, but not necessarily invites another Member to attend the event. It is a notification rather than an invitation, so I do not think one should extend the normal courtesies and expect there to be an invitation.

I note what the right hon. Lady says about Big Ben. However, it seems to me that, with regard to bunging a bob for Big Ben bongs, one should not look gift horses in the mouth. If people wish to pay for things, that should be considered as part of their public spiritedness rather than feeling that everything should always fall on the hard-pressed taxpayer, but then, as a Conservative, I do not think that things should always fall on hard-pressed taxpayers if that can be avoided.

With regard to accident and emergency figures, there have been record numbers going through this year. The health service has coped extremely well with a difficult winter. The Government’s proposals for funding the health service will be coming into law following a Second Reading debate on Monday 27 January, so the commitment of this Government to the health service is absolutely second to none. It is a very impressive record that we have and one of which the Conservatives, and indeed the country, can be proud.

With regard to Flybe, there was an urgent question on that, and the House will continue to be updated. The role of this House is always to scrutinise how public funds are used, and I am sure the House will be diligent in doing that. There will be Transport questions on Thursday 30 January, where the matter can be raised further.

With regard to the number of children people have, I am not one to lecture anybody. I am all in favour of large families; I have six children of my own. I would always discourage people from being disobliging towards people who have large families, because I think they are absolutely splendid—the more children, the merrier.

The right hon. Lady quite rightly continues to raise every week in these sessions the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The Prime Minister spoke to the Iranian President on 9 January; the Foreign Secretary did so on 6 January. The matter continues to be pursued, but the right hon. Lady is right to continue to raise it, because putting pressure on the Government and holding them to account is part of what this House does.

I endorse the right hon. Lady’s suggestion that Members sign the Holocaust memorial book. I am pleased that we are having the debate next Thursday, and that, prior to the establishment of the Backbench Business Committee, the Government have found time to ensure that it will take place.