Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 29th April 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 2:08 pm, 29th April 2020

The connection was not perfect, so I am not sure I got all the points, but I will answer them as far as I can. First, I completely agree with the right hon. Lady in congratulating the Prime Minister and Carrie on the wonderful news of a baby. As a father of six, I know that there is no greater joy than a new life suddenly appearing in the room, and this is a huge joy for the whole country. I believe the Prime Minister joins an exclusive club of Members who are fathers of six, along with my right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh. I do not know if there are any others I am missing out, but it is a great club to belong to.

As regards who can apply for the support from the Treasury, the rules are relatively clear and well set out. Companies that are not contributing, or that have not contributed, to this country and do not have their operations in this country will not particularly benefit, but employment in this country will benefit. As regards dividends, that, in a way, is a matter for companies. I notice that BP is going to carry on paying its dividend to try to help pensioners, and that is a decision for companies where I do not think it would be right for the Government to intervene.

We know the figures on PPE, as they have been set out, but there is a global shortage and every effort is being made to ensure that PPE gets to people who need it. The Government are working very hard on that and are investigating offers of supply from around the world. I notice that the Daily Mail and its readers are making huge efforts to help as well, so it is a national effort in which we are all involved.

I am concerned that the right hon. Lady says that she has not had a response from various Ministries and that email addresses have not necessarily been working. Particularly during periods of recess it is of great importance that Ministries respond in accordance with their own timelines. I know that there have been strains on certain Ministries, which is understandable, but holding Ministers to account is part of our role, and I will take that up with the Ministries that she mentioned and ensure that correct email addresses are made available.

Regarding particular statements, the right hon. Lady will understand that there is great pressure for statements and urgent questions at the moment. We are sitting for three days, and we have had a statement every day. Today, there is a business statement as well, so there are two statements today. All requests for statements are taken seriously, and I hope that the right hon. Lady will note that the many requests we received for a general debate on covid-19 have been taken up. Finally, she mentioned 1 May. She omitted to say that it is the feast of St Joseph the Workman, so it is a good day to celebrate.