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Financial and Social Emergency Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 25th 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 5:46 pm, 25th March 2020

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether I can be as helpful as possible to the House, and to Ian Blackford. During Prime Minister’s questions, the Prime Minister committed to bring forward a package for the self-employed within 48 hours, and I reiterated that in the business statement that I gave shortly afterwards. It will now be brought forward within 24 hours, and that is in response to considerable pressure and interest from this House, which asked for it to be done urgently. I have been informed that it is a complicated package that is not in fact ready for announcement today. Had it been ready today, it would have been brought forward today. The Government are keen to get on with this announcement, which will provide support and comfort to a large number of the self-employed. There is no discourtesy to the House. That was what the Prime Minister told us during Prime Minister’s questions, and the announcement will now be made slightly faster than was promised.

On holding the Government to account, I recognise, as did the Prime Minister, the major contribution made by Opposition parties to the development of policy in relation to the coronavirus. The Government are committed to working on a cross-party basis in dealing with this matter and, if further measures need to come before the House, they will be carried out on a similar basis. That is an important part of how the Government operate.

On the key question of how the Government will be held to account during the recess, I said during business questions that I would make available to all right hon. and hon. Members the hotline numbers that people can use, and email addresses for contacting Departments, so that Members may continue to raise questions or—perhaps more importantly—to seek information and answers for constituents during the recess. To facilitate that and to make it easier for right hon. and hon. Members, a consolidated list will be circulated. The Government are ready to be scrutinised.

Finally, although some right hon. and hon. Members would like the session to continue, we brought forward the date of the recess, having received many representations from many Members of Parliament who felt that, once we had completed the urgent business, we should, like the rest of the country, not be here. That was something we took on board, and that message came from across the House.