James Sunderland calls on Parliament to take the lead in returning to normality

James Sunderland calls on Parliament to take the lead in returning to normality and calls on the Parliamentary authorities to mitigate the risk to enable the Chamber of the House of Commons to be able to function normally.

James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con)

This country must return to normality, and it is incumbent upon us in this place to take the lead. Does the Leader of the House agree that we now need proactively to mitigate the risks of operating in a covid-secure environment and get this Chamber functioning normally?

Mr Speaker

Leader of the House, who should answer it—me or you?

Mr Rees-Mogg

That is a very good point, Mr Speaker; I was about to say that it is more your responsibility than mine, and I am always cautious of treading on your toes. There was a bit of a double act with your predecessor, who sometimes used to interfere in Question Time and answer questions that were directed to the Leader of the House, but it has been slightly more normal under your period of office, Mr Speaker.​

I am really keen that this Chamber should be as full as it possibly and safely can be. I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you saw the comments made in the debate last night, when people asked whether we could use the Galleries, have microphones at the Cross Benches at the back and do things to get more people in. I am very keen that we should, and I think I can speak for you, Mr Speaker, in saying that you are keen that we should, but we slightly run up against the official advice from Public Health England. It is difficult for this House, of all places, to ignore the advice that has been given by an official body. That is where we are slightly stymied, but perhaps PHE will be more flexible, and I know that Mr Speaker will then encourage more people to come in.