Jacob Rees-Mogg has clashed with Scottish MPs over the plan to bring virtual proceedings in the House of Commons to an end.
Pushing ahead with the plan, the Commons leader said Westminster would be “Covid-19 secure” by the time MPs return from Whitsun recess on June 2.
Mr Rees-Mogg said the policy of limiting numbers in the chamber to 50 MPs to observe social distancing would continue.
He added that MPs’ staff will be “strongly advised to continue working from home” while work is ongoing to assess how those with underlying health conditions who have been told to shield can contribute to proceedings.
It follows five weeks of sittings in which MPs have contributed either in person or over Zoom.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael hit out at the move, saying: “It is a simple fact that during this crisis we should work from home where possible to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep people safe. Forcing MPs to choose between the safety of our communities and equal representation is unacceptable.”
He added: “It is widely reported that the motivation for this over-hasty return is to get a support act behind the prime minister on Wednesday afternoon”
Mr Rees-Mogg said the comments were “beneath” Mr Carmichael, adding: “I am very sorry that he doesn’t think the proper scrutiny of the government is an essential task in a democracy.
“I think it’s an extraordinary position for a former member of the government to take.
“From his eyrie in the Shetland islands he tells us the remote system doesn’t work well enough and then he says we should nonetheless continue with it. I think we have a duty to return to doing our work.”
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