PARLIAMENT remains on course to return after the Easter recess despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Commons Leader outlined business for next week, including MPs considering all stages of emergency coronavirus legislation on March 23, and provisional business for March 30 and 31 – at which point the House is expected to rise for recess for three weeks.

He faced calls from the SNP to wind down the Commons next week but he replied by insisting the Government wants flexibility in case further emergency legislation needs to be approved.

Rees-Mogg also said it is "very important" that Parliament continues to sit when it returns on April 21.

The Cabinet minister cast doubt on the suggestion of technology being used to allow MPs to be involved in Commons proceedings without being in the chamber, although such measures are being considered for select committees.

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Business lined up for next week includes the Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill, a general debate on Yemen, opposition-led debates and time to consider any amendments made by peers to the Coronavirus Bill.

Bills put forward by MPs are scheduled to be considered on Friday March 27, and the provisional business on March 30 includes the Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill while March 31 will include a debate in which MPs can raise any issue they wish.

Speaking in the Commons, Rees-Mogg said: "With regard to our return on April 21, it is very important that Parliament continues to sit. The position of (the Government) is that Parliament will continue to sit.

"I think this is of significance, but we need to be held to account, but we also need to be able to legislate.

"With regard to Bills that are currently in committee, we will be able to ensure that those continue in committee as long as the House is sitting.

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"We may have to have discussions on precisely how the House operates. (Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz) asks about voting arrangements, may I thank the opposition for not calling divisions this week which has been helpful under the current circumstances.

"And I think we need to work closely together to see that the mechanisms we use are effective and actually ensure that we hold the Government to account, that we legislate properly, but we will have to look at this and I don't think it's right to make immediate decisions from the despatch box now, but let's see what the situation is when we come back on April 21."

SNP Commons leader Tommy Sheppard said the technology is available to "continue to have informed democratic debate without the necessity of having to meet in this chamber" and asked if procedures were being considered to allow MPs to represent their constituents without being in Parliament.

Sheppard also said: "At this point in time I do think it seems rather surreal and fanciful to be planning to meet not just next week in full but the week after.

"Should we not now be taking steps in order to wind down our formal processes and go to the Easter recess at the end of next week."

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Rees-Mogg said "everybody is open" to ideas about how Parliament can operate differently, and said "what steps can reasonably be taken that allow things to be done remotely" will be considered.

He said: "I think it may be difficult to recreate this chamber remotely but certainly for select committees there are options and they are being considered."

He added the Commons voted for the current recess arrangements, adding: "The House can obviously vote for new recess dates. I'd say we want to maintain flexibility because I can't make an absolute guarantee that all the emergency legislation that could possibly have been thought of is in the Bill coming before the House today.

"There may be other things we need to legislate on and there is also a demand for scrutiny so we have to get this balance right, and nothing will be done without consulting the opposition parties."

Earlier, the House of Commons Commission said every effort will be made to keep Parliament open throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Commission member Pete Wishart said the aim will be for Parliament to remain open so MPs can fulfil their "democratic obligations" but the safety of all staff "will be constantly under review".

The SNP MP added there have been "no recent formal discussions" on implementing electronic voting to keep MPs away from the Commons, but "all feasible alternative arrangements would be looked at" if divisions could no longer occur.