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

I am glad to bring pleasure to the hon. Gentleman, in that the motion on the Scottish Affairs Committee will be back on Monday. May I say that I am delighted that the Scottish National party is now removing its objections? There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth, etc.

As regards electronic voting, all that is being done is temporary, and it is worth emphasising that. We would not have achieved the consensus across the House to allow these procedures to be implemented if there were any thought that it were permanent. It is being done on a temporary basis, and implemented as quickly as possible. I hope that we will be able to experiment with electronic voting on 11 May, subject to the Procedure Committee considering the proposals and to testing with a large number of Members to ensure that it works.

As regards the hybrid Parliament or all being virtual, I think the hybrid Parliament is actually working well. It is a good indication that those who need to come into work are right to come into work. That has always been the Government’s policy, and people coming in is something that they are entitled to do. It is of great antiquity that we have a right to attend Parliament; it goes back to 1340. I think the way you have run these proceedings, Mr Speaker, has made it quite clear that there is only one class of Member of Parliament and that every Member is given exactly the same treatment: there are no interventions, there is no extension on speaking time and there is no ability to intervene for those who are in the Chamber. I think there is only one class, and it is first class, because of the work done by the House of Commons authorities to get this system up and running as rapidly as possible.

Finally, on 11 May, it will be a general debate. It would be too early to pre-empt what may be said and whether the Government’s five tests have had any fulfilment by that stage—that is still quite a time off—but I was responding, as Leader of the House, to the many requests from Members to have a general debate.