Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:45 am on 1st October 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 11:45 am, 1st October 2020

The hon. Gentleman has continued to ask for us to change our procedures and to do things more remotely; it is worth noting that yesterday the remote voting system in the other place fell down and therefore it will have to redo the votes on the business it was supposed to be doing. I think we have to press on with our important business in serving the country, ensuring that we have the debates that are asked for. From the point of view of Government business managers, we have the demand, on the one hand, for debates and votes, quite rightly, and on the other, that we should not be here. People cannot have it both ways. The technology did not provide satisfactory scrutiny and has fallen over in voting in the other place. When we had a problem in our Division Lobbies, we had a fall-back solution and we could carry on with the business. Losing a day’s votes on Report stage of a Bill makes proceeding with Government business exceptionally difficult.

As regards Westminster Hall, the hon. Gentleman says that most Members will not be able to attend, but most Members do not attend Westminster Hall anyway; very few debates are full in Westminster Hall, and although there will be formal limits, considering the numbers who are at most Westminster Hall debates, those formal limits will not be unduly stretched. The resources of our broadcasting teams are being used in other ways, and there are limited resources. Again, people wanted Westminster Hall back, and we have got Westminster Hall back, and that presents an opportunity to hold the Government to account; I think this is a good thing and the right thing to be doing.

The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill is a fantastic Bill. It is one of the best pieces of legislation passed by the House in recent times. It also devolves 70 powers to the devolved Administrations. SNP Members are modelling themselves on Oliver Twist—they are always asking for more. They cannot have more on this occasion. They have a great deal of devolution coming through that Bill, and the Bill will ensure that we have a functioning internal market. The hon. Gentleman effectively asked for further debates on the Bill. It is worth noting that two of the days in Committee were not completely used, so Members are on stronger ground complaining when the time provided by Government has been used up.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s support for the job support scheme. I remind the House that £190 billion of taxpayers’ money has gone to support the economy so far. That is a very substantial amount. As the Chancellor has said, not everything can be protected, but an enormous amount has been protected.