Hybrid Proceedings (Extension of Temporary Orders)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:06 pm on 12th May 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 6:06 pm, 12th May 2020

I beg to move,

That the Orders of 21 April (Hybrid scrutiny proceedings (Temporary Orders)) and 22 April (Hybrid substantive proceedings (Temporary Orders) and Remote voting (Temporary Orders)) shall have effect until 20 May 2020.

The motion extends the decisions of the House on 21 and 22 April to allow the continuation of remote participation in proceedings of the House and remote voting until the Whitsun recess on 20 May. I shall not dwell on the detail of those motions, but rather use my time to explain, briefly, the reason for their extension.

The current arrangements have allowed scrutiny of the Government to continue and, remarkably, remote voting to be carried out for the first time today. The motion allows the House to agree a short extension to the current arrangements. The Government have been consistent in saying that the arrangements are temporary. As yesterday’s Command Paper set out, it is only right that Parliament has set a national example of how businesses can continue in these circumstances. We have done so admirably, thanks to the patience and commitment of both staff and Members, and will continue to do so until the Whitsun recess, but it is clear that soon Parliament must set an example for how we move back, gradually, to a fully functioning country again. Our constituents would expect nothing less.

Although we must move in step with public health guidance, it is vital that when we are asking other people to work and to go to their places of work if they cannot do so from home, we should not be the ones who are exempt from that. Indeed, we should be leading by example. It is my expectation that I will not have to renew the temporary Standing Orders again. I am grateful to the House for developing the temporary procedures, and for the immense amount of work by staff here to make the arrangements work. However, it is my belief that this House cannot be as effective in carrying out its constitutional duties without Members being present. Debates are inevitably stilted; they lack interventions. I cannot think of any previous occasion when I have spoken for so long without receiving any interventions. I begin to fear that I am boring the House, and I can think of no greater sin.