House Business during the Pandemic

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:07 pm on 8th June 2020.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 7:07 pm, 8th June 2020

I am pleased that the right hon. Gentleman makes that point, which I believe is true, because it leads to my next point, which is about childcare.

In normal circumstances, Members of Parliament need to be careful when they complain about childcare. Compared with most of our constituents, we are very well paid; we are in the top 5% of income earners, so sometimes when I hear Members of Parliament complain about the difficulties of balancing working here with childcare—I accept that there are difficulties—I think that some of our constituents who have to manage working and childcare on considerably less generous salaries probably regard such complaints as self-indulgent. However, at the moment, it is difficult for people to get paid childcare, and many Members have children who are being educated at home, so it simply is not possible for them to get here and deal with those childcare responsibilities. Indeed, in his press conference on Wednesday 3 June, the Prime Minister, in answer to a public question from a lady called Toni, I think, accepted that lack of childcare was a perfectly valid reason for not being able to attend the workplace, and any good employer would recognise that in making decisions on whether an employee needed to report to work.