Debates between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 16th November 2021
3 interactions (415 words)
Thu 23rd September 2021
3 interactions (262 words)
Tue 7th September 2021
3 interactions (202 words)
Mon 12th July 2021
2 interactions (91 words)
Wed 30th December 2020
3 interactions (520 words)
Thu 3rd December 2020
3 interactions (218 words)
Wed 2nd September 2020
2 interactions (936 words)
Thu 2nd July 2020
3 interactions (277 words)
Wed 6th May 2020
3 interactions (605 words)

Committee on Standards

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(2 weeks, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- - Excerpts

I think the simple answer—[Interruption.] No, I think the heckle from the right hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mark Tami) is unfair and unkind. It was simply that the tragedy that afflicted Mr Paterson coloured and clouded our judgment, and my judgment, incorrectly. It is as simple and as sad as that.

The Back-Bench amendment that we supported was intended to facilitate the exploration, on a cross-party basis, of the standards system, with a time-limited, ad hoc Committee. However, I regret that the amendment conflated an individual case with more general concerns. That was a mistake. Crucially, the amendment did not carry cross-party support, which is why we have changed our approach.

The Government fully recognise the role of the Committee on Standards in ensuring that the code of conduct reflects and fosters the highest standards of public life. I would like to thank all the Committee members and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for their service. We await the Committee’s report on the code of conduct with interest. The Committee performs an important role in identifying opportunities to improve the standards system, and I note that the Chairman, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), has made a recent, and helpful, commitment to commission a senior judicial figure to advise on possible changes to the process.

I assure all right hon. and hon. Members that I am always willing to discuss this matter further, and I hope to work with Opposition Members constructively on this issue. We all have the best interests of the House at heart and I hope that, setting aside the previous debate, we will work well together in the weeks ahead.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
-

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for facilitating this debate. [Laughter.] On 3 November, he said that the concerns expressed about the individual case in question included:

“the lack of examination of witnesses”—

of whom there were 17—

“the interpretation of the rules relating to whistleblowing…the application of aggravating factors; and the absence of the right of appeal.”—[Official Report, 3 November 2021; Vol. 702, c. 939.]

With regard to the first three of those, what is my right hon. Friend’s current view in relation to that particular case?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- - Excerpts

First, the House will always have a debate when it wants to have a debate; that is how our procedures work. They are extremely straightforward and ensure that right hon. and hon. Members can come to this House and make objections, if they so wish, to have subjects debated on the Floor of the House—

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 23rd September 2021

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important to recognise that some people had to go into work to do their job properly, for security reasons or to ensure the integrity of systems, and the DVLA was one of those organisations. We are now getting back to work and people are going back to their offices, which is a thoroughly good thing.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Can we have an early debate on the role of the Committee on Standards in delivering natural justice for those against whom complaints are made? Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that, in its second report, at paragraph 53, the Committee decided that my right hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) did not accept that he had breached the rules of the House and that this was treated as an aggravating factor? That is in complete contrast to the rules of the Sentencing Council, which say that pleading guilty can be a mitigating factor but that contesting a case cannot be regarded as an aggravating factor. Does that not show that natural justice seems to have been thrown to the wind by the Committee on Standards?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises an important point: people must be entitled, in all circumstances, to defend themselves, and it would be unfair to penalise somebody who believed they had acted in good faith for that belief. The assumption must very often be that Members do act in good faith. That is not to say that we do not make mistakes, but to defend oneself must be a natural right of Members of Parliament.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tuesday 7th September 2021

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not entirely sure who my right hon. Friend receives his emails from. It may be from certain conspiracy theorists who think all sorts of things are going to be discussed in this House. I remind him of what I said about Thursday: there will be a motion relating to the second report of the Session 2021-22 from the Committee on Standards, followed by the remaining stages of the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill, and then a very important general debate on the legacy of Jo Cox. If my right hon. Friend wishes to be here earlier in the morning, he can, of course, hear my business statement, which will update him on any further business.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Will the Ways and Means resolution be amendable? In particular, would it be possible to amend the Ways and Means resolution to ensure that the cap on care costs comes into effect at the same time as the higher taxes, instead of 18 months later?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Ways and Means resolutions are amendable. My hon. Friend will have to have a discussion with the Table Office on what type of amendments it will accept, but, yes, the broad principle is that they are amendable.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Monday 12th July 2021

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - -

Can I ask my right hon. Friend whether it will be possible to amend the business of the House motion to facilitate the deferral of the debate on the draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Those matters are matters properly for the Speaker rather than for me, but it may be possible that we could have an interesting discussion on the meaning of the word “forthwith”. I seem to remember that that topic exercised the House to a considerable degree in a previous Parliament.

Amendments to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 28th April 2021

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that extremely sensible point. I would not want to trespass on the exclusive cognisance in their own fields of the various other Parliaments, but if it were thought useful I could certainly ensure that copies of what we propose were sent on an information basis. I am looking at both the SNP and the DUP in the hope that they would not think that that was an impertinence and an attempt to interfere. If those proposals were of use, however, I think that that would be a sensible thing to do.

The ICGS will be streamlined with the removal of the right to seek a review of the draft formal assessment, which is a current means for a complainant to request review when an investigation concludes that the case is not upheld. The factual accuracy check will now be the single point at which both parties, complainant and responder, can correct inaccuracies in the report. The system that we have had until now, which combines a factual accuracy check and a review, has resulted in substantial delay in some cases. We have debated the need for investigations to come to a conclusion more speedily on a number of occasions, and this straightforward measure will help to achieve that.

Another important recommendation concerns the introduction of a time limit for non-recent cases. That will apply only to bullying and harassment cases. The new timeframe will be brought in a year from now, applying to new complaints arising from 28 April 2022. From that date onwards, people can report an incident of bullying or harassment up to one full year after it occurs. That compares with the three-month deadline for claims to an employment tribunal, so the House is once again setting a standard higher than that expected in external workforces. Given the particular nature of sexual harassment cases and the understandable reality that people often need longer to feel able to bring forward such a case, there will be no time limit for those cases.

In addition to the changes recommended by the review, further technical changes are proposed to the policies and procedures, including making it clear that although bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are defined in the same way across the parliamentary community, the Commissioners for Standards in both Houses are responsible for overseeing investigations, so there are some procedural differences. Other recommendations include aligning the language of the two policies and procedures more closely; amending the procedure documents to be clear that they provide an outline only of the procedure; making it clear that complaints can be made of any former member of the parliamentary community; including in the bullying and harassment policy that victimisation is an aggravating factor, as included in the sexual misconduct policy; and finally, including information on data protection.

I would like to provide some reassurance about whether the changes set out in the motion would have retrospective effect. For the majority of changes to the text of the policies and procedures, the question of retrospection does not arise. Some of the changes are purely linguistic—for example, the change in terminology from “case manager” to “independent investigator”, to ensure that the documents reflect the terminology used by those involved in the process, or the change from “reporter” to “complainant” in sexual misconduct complaints. In those cases, it would not be meaningful to talk about retrospection.

Other changes have been made to reflect existing practice. For example, the factual accuracy check, which was introduced as a procedural step some time ago as a matter of fairness to both parties, is now expressly referred to in the documents. Other changes have been made to clarify the language and to amend defects in the drafting to ensure that the documents clearly reflect the policy intention at the time they were made. It will be for the decision maker to decide how to apply the policy in cases already under way, considering both the language at the time and the intention. I will repeat that for the benefit of the House, because it is a fundamental point: it will be for the decision maker to decide how to apply the policy in cases already under way, considering both the language of the policy at the time and the intention. For Members or former Members, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards makes the initial decision, which can then be appealed to the independent expert panel in accordance with the IEP’s own procedures. For former staff, the house service is the decision maker, and for Members’ staff, the decision maker will be the Member.

There are also some minor changes where it is fair and reasonable to apply the changes—

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

The Leader of the House has addressed the issue that has been a concern to me and that led to me seeking support for an amendment—the issue of retrospection—but I am rather disappointed that he does not seem to be ruling out the fact that changes to paragraph 4.3 are retrospective. How can it be justified that we make retrospective changes to paragraph 4.3 which, subject to the decision maker, can be allowed to be lawful? Surely if we change the rules we should change them prospectively rather than retrospectively.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The issue is that it is not at this stage clear what decision the decision maker would make on the language that is currently used in the light of the policy that was adopted by the House. What we are passing today does not change the ability of the decision maker to make a decision on the language of the policy at the time. It is not an attempt to say that the decision maker must follow a new set of words or an old set of words. It is for them to look at what was there at the time both in policy and in terms of language and decide what the right decision is.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - -

But paragraph 16 of the Commission report states that the drafting of paragraph 4.3 has merely

“been updated so that it more clearly reflects the policy intention of the Commission and the House, when the resolution relating to non-recent cases was passed in July 2019”.

Without anticipating my own speech, all I can say is that there is no evidence at all that there was such a policy intention at that time, and I am very worried that those words in paragraph 16 could be used by a decision maker in order to justify what I would regard as retrospective change.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is not for me to say what decision the decision maker should come to, but the decision maker should base any decision on the language of the policy at the time. It would not be fair to make a decision on our clarification ex post facto. I hope that is helpful to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes a point that is sorted out by the fact that there is an appeals system and a senior body that can, on appeal, determine this, which I imagine other decision makers would then want to follow. It is not the same as a court, but it is not entirely dissimilar. Lower courts can make a decision, but ultimately there is an appeal body that will make a decision that we would then expect the lower-down decision makers to follow. I do not think that the problem he outlines would last, because there is a proper appeals system to the independent expert panel, which, very much at the request of Members across the House, contains very serious legal expertise, so that we can ensure that in all these cases, natural justice is done and it is fair to both complainants and respondents.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - -

Will the independent panel be accessible by former Members, rather than just current Members? In paragraph 3 of the Commission’s report, there is a reference to the changes to which we are referring being

“recommended by staff for clarification and updating of the documents.”

Are those staff involved in any of this decision making? Can my right hon. Friend ensure that those recommendations from the staff are published, so that we can all see what they were and the basis on which they were put forward?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Alison Stanley carried out a very thorough review and spoke to a number of people across the parliamentary estate to get their views and to get a full understanding of how the overall system was working. She drew her conclusions from that and made recommendations to the Commission, the bulk of which will be implemented if the House decides to support tonight’s proposal. When discussions are held in confidence, it is unfair retrospectively to undermine that confidence, so I could not give the commitment that the views given to Alison Stanley should be made public, because the views were not solicited on that basis.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - -

It was a mistake to put two points in one intervention. My first point was about whether former Members of Parliament will have access to the independent panel for appeal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The independent expert panel is available for appeals for people who get caught up in the ICGS system. If any conclusion is made, I believe people have the right to ask to appeal to the panel. Not all appeals are guaranteed, but there is a right to ask for one. As far as I am aware, that applies to anybody who comes up within the system.

Let me come to the other minor changes. The original documents were clear that confidentiality is central to the process, but they made reference to the possibility that either a complainant or a respondent might wish to discuss the matter with a small number of people to seek practical support. Those mentioned were managers and HR services or other relevant parties. The new version refers expressly to trade union representatives and party Whips, because concerns were very reasonably raised that the document should make it clear that a Member who discussed his or her case with a Whip would not be in breach of the requirement of confidentiality. That clarification is relevant in all cases, whether or not the complaints procedure has already begun.

Where there is a real change to the policies and procedures, I am happy to confirm that the changes are not being applied retrospectively. In particular, the new one-year time limit on complaints of bullying and harassment will not be applied to any complaints made before 28 April 2022, and that is clear from the text before the House. Alison Stanley also recommended the removal of the complainant’s right of review because of the degree of overlap with the factual accuracy check. Any complainant who has made a formal complaint before the House’s approval of the amended texts will continue to be able to request a review on the grounds set out in the existing documents, namely that the procedure was flawed or that substantial new evidence has become available.

The purpose of all the changes we are debating today is to ensure that the ICGS is an effective, efficient, clear and comprehensive system for complaints and support. These alterations will make a difference to the running of the scheme and will help us to make progress towards real and sustained culture change in Parliament—something I know Members across the House are keen to continue to champion and support. I commend the motion to the House.

Sittings in Westminster Hall (Suspension) (No. 2)

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 13th January 2021

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I understand it—though it may be better to seek wise clerkly advice on this point—if the Committee of Selection were to approve members for the Committee, the Committee could go ahead, and then my right hon. Friend’s Bill would be ready for the point at which we bring back Fridays, which, as I said, I look forward to doing at the earliest opportunity, when it is possible and practicable.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thought I had almost finished, but I would never refuse to give way to my hon. Friend.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - -

I am very grateful. My right hon. Friend says that he is committed to coming back with proposals as soon as practicable. If we passed the amendments tonight, they would ensure that his will prevailed until after half-term, and then after half-term there would have to be a fresh look at these issues. Does he not agree with that?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think my hon. Friend is saying, “Not my will but thy will be done”—essentially, that is his point—but I think the commitment is a sensible one. There is limited time, and therefore we should bring back something when we can actually do it rather than going through the motions again and again. That is why we have not reset dates for private Members’ Bills on Fridays, because we have reset dates now several times, and we have found that we have had to re-reset dates because, when we got to the new dates, it has turned out not be practical to sit. Therefore, I think this is the most sensible way of doing it, but I reiterate my reluctance. This place is here to scrutinise, to hold to account and to ensure that our constituents are represented. Anything that reduces scrutiny is something that no Leader of the House should ever wish to do.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am so sorry I was not clear; I thought that everybody knew that “da-da-da-dah, da-da-da-dah” was the fifth symphony. It was, of course, used as the signature tune of the BBC during the second world war to indicate that freedom was coming to Europe. As regards fishermen, the deal delivers for our fishermen. It recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters and puts us in a position to rebuild our fishing fleet and increase quotas in the next few years. There will be a rapid increase in quota—an uplift of up to 25%—by the end of five and a half years, beginning at 15%, before annual negotiations mean we can steadily increase beyond that point. In addition, £100 million will be spent in a programme to modernise the fishing fleet and the fish processing industry, so this is a great new opportunity for fishing. As the Prime Minister said in his speech earlier, it is putting right the wrongs of the common fisheries policy. May I finish by wishing my neighbour in Somerset a very happy new year? I am sorry that both Bath and North East Somerset are going into tier 3 from midnight tonight, or one minute past midnight tomorrow morning, but at least we will be able to have happy celebrations among ourselves.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for his sterling personal contribution to securing the full Brexit of our dreams, but may I remind him that there is an organisation still frustrating our power to control our own borders and laws? I am referring to the European Court of Human Rights. Can we have a debate about that Court, particularly in light of its judgment, reported in The Times law reports yesterday, in the case of Unuane? That is a case where we deported a foreign national offender who had been sentenced to five and a half years’ imprisonment for very serious immigration offences—facilitating other people to break our immigration laws. The Court has said that deportation was unlawful. Can we have a debate to discuss judge-made law, which the Court itself referred to? It said that it was interpreting the law itself, although it is not spelt out in article 8.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The official Home Office line is that the Home Office is disappointed with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, as it has a duty to protect the public by removing foreign criminals who violate our laws, and that is obviously right, but I would say to my hon. Friend that there is one fundamental difference between the ECJ and the European Court of Human Rights: ECJ judgments became our law automatically, but judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have to come through Parliament at some point to make our law compatible, but that ultimately is a choice. He will remember that was a choice we were very reluctant to make over voting rights for prisoners. The European Court of Human Rights has a different status—a lesser status—and the great protector of human rights in this nation is this House of Commons, not any court outside the country.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 3rd December 2020

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is a matter of considerable concern to the Government, and the Government have been raising it with the Nigerian authorities. I will pass on the details of the hon. Lady’s question, because we must do whatever we can to ensure religious toleration across the world.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Never has parliamentary scrutiny of Government become more important than it is now. In the light of that, will my right hon. Friend agree to allow the House to sit until Christmas Eve so that we can discuss all these important issues, not least the tiering process, and to enable the House to have a chance to consider an issue dear to Mr Speaker and the Deputy Speakers—namely, whether or not we should introduce a change to the Standing Orders relating to the length of speeches?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a matter of great concern that speeches are much too short. I know that Members of the House would like speeches to go on for many hours as they used to in the 19th century—particularly those of my hon. Friend, who has made some spectacularly long speeches in my period in this House and done so with great panache and verve. I agree with him that scrutiny is fundamental, but I can assure the House that we will not be sitting on Christmas Day.

Proceedings During the Pandemic (No. 4)

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 2nd September 2020

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I very much agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Sir Robert Syms), and also with my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), because this motion is over the top. It was only at the end of July that we agreed to extend the arrangements until the end of September. What has happened since the end of July that has caused us now to feel the need to extend them until the beginning of November?

The motion is consistent with the knee-jerk way in which the Government are dealing with many of our constituents. Take, for example, last Saturday when at 24 hours’ notice the Government introduced an extension to the restrictions on evictions of tenants from 20 September until March of next year. That six-month extension was implemented without any impact assessment and without any notice. Now we are talking about having a much longer period of notice before we introduce changes to the way in which we operate in this House.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden made an excellent point in saying that we are on the cusp of being able to have a testing regime of the type that was spoken about by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care yesterday.

He said that a 90-minute testing regime would soon be in place. If that is in place in the next two or three weeks, which I very much hope it will be, that would negate completely the purpose of the motion before us.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who is generally a great facilitator of parliamentary and legislative scrutiny, will agree that although the motion is likely to go through this evening there will, notwithstanding what is in the motion, be a review in which the Procedure Committee will be able to express its own opinion, so that we can take into account the emerging evidence and the ability to provide us all with tests. If we were all tested and those tests were pretty accurate, we would be able to set a much better example to those people who are going back to schools, the people we are encouraging to go back to factories, the people we are encouraging to get back on to public transport.

I will not speak at greater length now because I have a very similar subject on legislative scrutiny for this evening’s Adjournment debate and I would not want to eat into my own time.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am extraordinarily keen that the House should get back to normal operation. Hon. and right hon. Members may remember that when we reduced the hybrid Parliament on 2 June, it was perhaps not the most popular motion I have ever brought forward to this House—that there was at that point considerable reluctance to limit hybridity. But I thought it was fundamentally important that we set the lead for the nation. We have in fact been back at work in this place since the beginning of June, and we have been primarily physical from that point; and I think that has led the way.

I would encourage hon. and right hon. Members to look at what the motion actually does, rather than what they fear it does. We have the limitation on Members sitting in the Chamber, being physically present, but that is under a motion that says, under “Participation in Proceedings”:

“The Speaker…may limit the number of Members present in the Chamber at any one time”.

That does not set the number at 50; the number is not set in stone. These arrangements—the little cards that replace our prayer cards—are not under Standing Orders; they are at the discretion of Mr Speaker, on the advice of Public Health England. The Commission discussed with Public Health England, the last time they visited us, how we could change that; how, with the change to three and a quarter feet, we could have more people in the Chamber, and the Commission said we could do that, on the advice of Public Health England, if we made our speeches sitting down and wore masks. Now, I must say to this House that my personal opinion is that it would be far worse to allow a few more people in here, and to sit down with masks on our faces to try and orate, in a most ludicrous fashion.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) is one of the most distinguished orators in this House, and I think he did himself a disservice when he said that his speeches were received now, in this Chamber, as if it were a very quiet Adjournment debate. I think that, with 50 in the Chamber, Members can have an effect on the mood of the House. Yes, it is not the same as that packed and bustling Chamber that we get for the Queen’s Speech and Prime Minister’s questions, but look around: here we are, on a Wednesday afternoon, and the House is not full. There are spare seats, even with social distancing. Many of the people who watch our proceedings know that actually, with a few exceptions, this is broadly as full as the Chamber usually is. It is not that all the 400-odd seats are taken every day; it is that there are a few occasions when the Chamber is full, and those few occasions, I absolutely accept, are less exciting than they normally would be. But it does not mean there is no holding to account. It does not mean there is no representation of our constituents.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 2nd July 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

2 Jul 2020, 12:05 a.m.

Criminal activity is always wrong, and the police need to have the resources to enforce the law. Therefore, I can give the hon. Gentleman the good news that of the commitment to employ 20,000 more police officers we now have achieved 3,005 of them, so the numbers are going up. This is about enforcing the law as it exists and we could not have a more doughty champion of law and order than my right hon Friend the Home Secretary.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - -

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is possible to have an early debate on the importance of regulatory impact assessments in public policy making? As he knows, social distancing rules have a different impact in different sectors of the economy and on different activities, and we would be able to get a lot more consistency in Government advice on this if we had regulatory impact assessments, which seem to have been ignored, not least in relation to social-distancing rules in this House.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

2 Jul 2020, 12:05 a.m.

The problem is that if we spend too long doing all this, by the time we have done it we have moved on to the next stage of the lockdown. We have to move at a pace to ensure that things happen in a timely manner, and I am a bit surprised that my hon. Friend is calling for bureaucratic folderol, rather than getting on with things—this is out of character for him. We need to do things properly and one sector or another will do it differently, but, as the opening up takes place, people must to some extent use their own wisdom to work out what they have to do.

Business of the House

Debate between Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Leader of the House
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s comments with regard to the digital voting, and for the tribute he paid to the House staff for doing that. I re-emphasise its temporary nature. We have proceeded with almost unanimous consent to achieve a hybrid Parliament. We would not have done so had people thought this was a sleight of hand—a prestidigitation—to try to change our procedures on a permanent basis. It has been important to maintain the good will of all parliamentarians.

As regards the statement on Sunday, I think the Prime Minister’s answer at Prime Minister’s questions was the right one. Although the week starts on a Sunday, the business week starts on a Monday, therefore the announcement is being made in preparation for the business week on a Monday. It is therefore the right time to do it, but I can confirm that there will be a statement on Monday. [Interruption.] I notice some giggles in the Chamber, although, Mr Speaker, I am not sure I am meant to notice the giggles emanating from the Chair. It slightly surprises me, because I do not think there are any plans for the House to meet on Sunday.

As regards the hybridity of this Chamber, this House must lead by example. The Government have set out in their guidelines that those who cannot work from home are entitled to and ought to carry on working, especially those in crucial roles. To pretend our democracy is not crucial undermines and undervalues the whole purpose of our democracy. What goes on here—the holding to account and the legislation—is essential, and when we are asking other people to work and to go to their places of work, we should not be ones who are exempt from that. I am glad, therefore, that we have made a hybrid system work.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

Can I thank my right hon. Friend for giving the assurance that there will be a statement on Monday, because that will enable Members to be able to ask questions on the statement, which they would not be able to do if it was just a mere introduction to a debate without the ability to intervene? May I also ask my right hon. Friend what he will do to ensure that the system of named day written questions works for the benefit of Back Benchers and their constituents? A host of named day questions are not being answered on time or at all, and I am sorry to say that the Department of Health and Social Care is the worst offender. One question that it has answered was from me, asking how many it had not answered. When that came in on Monday, it showed that figure to be more than 100, and I do not think any of those questions have been answered since, and a whole lot more are in the queue. Will my right hon. Friend do something to help us on that?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One of the reasons why everyone likes and admires my hon. Friend so much is that only he would think up the question of asking how many questions had not been answered. It is a splendid question that should be asked regularly, although most politicians might not be able to give an accurate answer. It is really important that written questions and named day questions are answered. I would, however, ask the House to have some sympathy for the Department of Health and Social Care under these very extraordinary circumstances. Whereas I would normally go in with all cudgels waving, I think with that particular Department under the current circumstances, a degree of latitude is allowable.