There are now less than two weeks until Parliament’s emergency procedures are reviewed. Will the Leader of the House share his insights as to what should happen next? Will he move forward, allowing people to participate equally by switching the e-voting system back on and allowing all Members to contribute to debates; or backwards, disenfranchising those who cannot be physically present?
Last week, I informed the House of the decision of the Scottish Parliament to seek a review of the financial arrangements within which it operates, in order that it could better deal with the aftermath of covid-19. I asked when that request, backed by four out of five parties in Scotland, would be considered by this Parliament, and I did not get an answer. This week, we saw the publication of the report by the independent economic recovery group in Scotland, a mainly private sector perspective. Guess what its first recommendation was? It was also to loosen the financial straitjacket that constrains the Scottish Parliament. We do need to discuss this. The financial set-up of devolution was not designed to deal with the type of problems the Scottish Government now face, and platitudes about how wonderful the Union is will not address this serious problem.
May I ask about hospitality and entertainment, and I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests? Many in the sector will have to stay closed beyond the lifespan of the current coronavirus support schemes. If a business is shut by public order, does the Leader of the House agree it should get public help? I know we have difficulty in getting the Chancellor to write a letter, but will the Leader of the House persuade him to come to this House and say what he intends to do beyond October?
We have six days left in which to seek an extension of the Brexit transition period. It is crystal-clear that the Government’s necessary focus on the pandemic has affected preparations. Why will the Leader of the House not allow the House time to consider extending the time available? Does he not realise that the Government’s Canute-like stance on this matter is looking increasingly foolhardy and cavalier, even to those who support leaving the European Union?