House Business during the Pandemic

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 8th June 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 6:10 pm, 8th June 2020

It is a very good point, and a fair point for the hon. Gentleman to make, but you will see, Madam—Mr Deputy Speaker. A sort of transformation has taken place. Even without haircuts, Mr Deputy Speaker’s hairstyle is not as lustrous as Madam Deputy Speaker’s, and it is a different colour, as Valerie Vaz helpfully points out.

However, look at what has been happening in this debate—this is happening as a debate. Questions are coming in at all angles, testing the Government’s view. Why? Because we are here physically. I am not closed minded as Leader of the House. If it could work, with people who are shielded and cannot be here zooming in and making interventions, I would not seek to stop that out of stubbornness, but I do not yet see how it is possible to make a debate like this, with a vibrant exchange of views. I have not counted how many interventions I have taken, but how would this debate have flowed? How could we have got the exchange of opinion with people randomly popping up? How would they have come in? Would there have been a tower of Babel as they shouted over each other? Would they have to be on mute or off mute, and how would we know when they came on? Would a list have to be prepared in advance? Would someone have to apply to Mr Speaker in advance to get on the list to intervene on what I was going to say before they knew what I was going to say? It is really difficult to make a debate work with virtual interventions.