Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 19th March 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 12:30 pm, 19th March 2020

Unfortunately, the Civil Contingencies Act would not have worked in these circumstances, because the problem was known about early enough for it not to qualify as an emergency under the terms of that Act. The legal experts say that if we can introduce emergency legislation, we should do so rather than using the Civil Contingencies Act, because if we have time to introduce emergency legislation, we obviously knew about it long enough in advance for the Act not to apply. That is why that Act could not be used.

On future scrutiny, one reason why it is so important that we keep the operation of this House going—to which, as I have said before, the Government are committed—is to ensure that scrutiny takes place. The Government of this country are the Executive and the legislature; they are not purely the Executive. We need to ensure that the legislature is operating efficiently, even if it has to operate differently, to ensure that we carry out our proper role.