Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 24th September 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 11:11 am, 24th September 2020

I will deal with the last point first. When we had a completely hybrid House, we found it was deeply unsatisfactory for legislation and debates around legislation. Legislation effects changes and alters people’s lives, and it needs to be done thoroughly and scrutinised effectively by the House. Unfortunately, a series of monologues did not succeed in doing that, subject to very tight time limitations. That was the one bit of the hybrid system that did not work, which is why we have gone back to doing legislative business personally, and we will continue to do that for the foreseeable future.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and to members of other parties for their support for Monday’s debate, which is, of course, a change in business from what was previously announced, but I think the House as a whole wanted to have that debate. On the question of its being general, the difficulty is that there are many points that individuals wish to raise on behalf of their constituents. There is always a balance to be struck between the general nature of the debate and the specifics of what is going on, but allowing Members to bring forward individual issues from their constituencies is important.

As regards co-operation between the devolved authorities, devolution inevitably leads to differences, and that is part of its purpose, but the leaders of the devolved authorities have been attending Cobra meetings—they have been invited to some of them, where they have been able to contribute their views. Part of the way of tackling the problem is to have different local options. We have moved away from the one national approach to widespread national advice, followed by very clear but detailed regulations in local areas, and I think that that fits in with the devolved settlement.

The hon. Gentleman also refers to the money issue, and it is worth reminding him that £6.5 billion has gone from the UK taxpayer to Scotland—[Interruption.] I said the UK taxpayer, and that does include Scotland for the time being. We are still a United Kingdom, I am glad to say—[Interruption.] May it remain forever, and I am glad to see some support coming from the Democratic Unionist party for that view. So £6.5 billion and 157,000 people have been helped on the self-employed scheme and 779,500 on the furlough scheme. I am glad to say that money is going where it is needed because of the strength of the United Kingdom. With regard to the Budget, one cannot make decisions on policy until one has the facts available to make those decisions upon, and this is such a rapidly changing situation that it would be premature to give any commitments on the Budget.