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Jacob Rees-Mogg promises Commons will return using 'technological solutions'

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Jacob Rees-Mogg promises Commons will return using 'technological solutions'

Jacob Rees-Mogg has vowed the House of Commons will return after its Easter recess using "technological solutions" to maintain social distancing and halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The Commons leader said new tech measures were being prepared to allow parliament to "fulfill its essential constitutional functions" when it returns from its planned Easter recess on 21 April.

It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer put pressure on Commons authorities to hold "urgent talks" to find a workable solution which would allow MPs to scrutinise the government's coronavirus response.

Some select committees have conducted sessions remotely, but MPs had been calling for further steps to allow them to question ministers and get information from government departments about their work.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Rees-Mogg said options would be presented to political parties and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle next week to approve.

"Parliament will return on April 21 to fulfill its essential constitutional functions of conducting scrutiny, authorising spending and making laws," they said.

"In these unprecedented times, technological solutions have already been implemented for select committees and options are being prepared for the Speaker, the Government and other parties to consider next week."

They added: "It is important that we have a comprehensive solution that does not inadvertently exclude any members."

Asked about the announcement, Starmer told Sky's Sophy Ridge he was "pleased" with the decision.

"I still want to have the urgent talks because it has got to sit effectively," he said.

"I don't see how it can sit in the ordinary way and I think the sooner we can scrutinise decisions, the better. You have seen just this weekend, with the real issue of protective equipment, with the Government saying one thing and the frontline saying another.

"I don't doubt the Government is doing everything it can to get the protective equipment to the people who need it as quickly as possible. And I don't pretend it is not a very difficult to do. But there is a mismatch."

Westminster saw a string of cases of the disease before it shut last month, with health minister Nadine Dorries being the first to be struck down by the bug.

A high number of MPs have also reportedly also been infected with the illness, with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour MP Tony Lloyd being hospitalised due to their symptoms.

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