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Points of Order

Volume 676: debated on Thursday 4 June 2020

I will take the point of order, but will those leaving the Chamber please be very careful to respect social distancing.

I am very grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker. As nanny would say, the Leader of the House has been a very naughty boy. He knows perfectly well that all I have been trying to do this week is to make sure that Members who have to shield or are shielding other members of their household—or, for that matter, those who have childcare responsibilities that make it very difficult for them to come to Parliament—should be able to continue to participate both in debates and questions and to participate in votes. He knows perfectly well that that is what I have been trying to do for the last three days, so I take it ill that he should choose to misrepresent my views.

There are two motions on the Order Paper today in the name of the Leader of the House, and they have two different ideas of who should be allowed to participate: two different ways of determining who is allowed to participate by proxy voting and who is allowed to take part remotely in questions and statements in the House. The Prime Minister said yesterday, in answer to a question in the press conference, that

“obviously employers have to be reasonable and if someone can’t get childcare then that is clearly a reason for them not to be able to go back to work.”

I still do not understand why the Prime Minister applies that to the whole of the country, but not to Parliament.

I have tabled an amendment to the second motion, which relates to being able to participate in debates. I understand that, if we were to get to the moment of interruption and I had not withdrawn that amendment, the motion would not be able to go forward and people would not be able to take part next week. I have no desire to prevent that; I want to make sure that everybody can participate fully. I think the vast majority of the country would like that, and actually the vast majority of the House as well, so I will be withdrawing my amendment.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for clarifying that he is now withdrawing his amendment. On the first part of his point of order, I know that the Leader of the House has respect for the Chair, but I suspect that he has more attention towards nanny. I shall therefore make every endeavour to ensure that the Leader of the House and nanny are made aware of the first part of the point of order.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the House made reference to cleaners having to be in this building anyway. I feel that the way he did that was incredibly dismissive of the work that those people do for us in this building. May I ask you whether it is your understanding that those cleaners are put at infinitely more risk by the presence of hundreds of additional people in this building than they would be if we were not here?

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. I think everybody in this House appreciates the incredible work of those who support us in what we do, from the cleaners right through to all the other support staff who are here, but I will make absolutely certain that the Leader of the House is made aware of her comments.

Sitting suspended.