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Panic! before Virtual Parliament

May 8, 2020 11:34 AM

Jamie stoneSuch excitement!

Eight minutes to go before I am due to ask Jacob Rees-Mogg a Business Question in Parliament - well actually via Zoom, and my iPad - from below the stairs in my home...

I carefully place my iPad on the wee table on the left, put the camera on and turn it to selfie to see how I will look on the huge screens in the Chamber of the House of Commons.

Hmm, not bad. I adjust my tie and clean my specs.

Seven minutes to go.

Gah! There's a bottle of wine in the background!! So I get out of my seat and hastily remove it.

Six minutes to go. I glance top right at the iPad screen.

OMG - only 4% battery left! It could switch off anytime during my question! Jamie Stone would go completely blank live on Parliament TV.

I look down for the charger - and then remember that the day before I had stood on it and broken it. It's terribly cramped under the stairs. Seriously rattled I'm again out of my seat and off to the kitchen to borrow my wife's.

Rush rush.

Click - into the iPad.

Damnation - not charging. So I turn it round and push it in again. Glory be, it's charging. My heart is racing, and I furtively mop my brow and glance at the screen again. There is Mr Speaker.

"And now we go to Jamie Stone - JAMIE STONE!

I kid you not. In the very nick of time.

There is a small business in my constituency that cannot operate and is receiving absolutely no financial support from the government. They couple who were running it won't even get Universal Credit until next week. But for the food bank, and kind family and friends, they wouldn't have been able to feed their two small children.

This is how the official record of the House of Commons, recorded the final part of my question to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

"They now have no income whatsoever and have fallen through what I might call the floorboards of the safety net. Will the Leader of the House be kind enough to agree with me that it would be helpful if a Minister came to the House to outline to Members like me how we can speedily try to help these people, pick them up off the floor and get them going again?"

Was Mr Rees-Mogg helpful? Not hugely. He airily referred me to Treasury Questions next week and then simply concluded that "there are some who fall through the cracks".

It's a complete lottery as to whether I'd be called for a Treasury Question next week. Absolutely not something I can bet on. So I have written to him further outlining this particular case, and also enclosing a letter about the couple in question that I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a week ago.

Two morals to the tale.

My work must continue.

And I must remember to make sure the iPad is always fully charged.

Watch the full video of me asking Mogg on Virtual Parliament here