SCOTTISH MPs look set to defy a bid by the UK Government for the House of Commons to abandon its virtual sittings and return within weeks to a “physical Parliament” in order to “set an example” to the country.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, said he did not want to see the temporary digital arrangements extended beyond the Whitsun recess, due to end on June 2.

As MPs debated extending the measures, which have allowed them to join debates via webcam, Mr Rees-Mogg declared: "It is my expectation that I will not have to renew these temporary standing orders again."

He went on: "It is clear soon Parliament must set an example of how we move back gradually to a fully-functioning country again. Our constituents would expect nothing less.

"So, while we must move in step with public health guidance, it is vital that when we are asking other people to work and go to their places of work if they cannot do so from home, we should not be the ones who are exempt from that. Indeed, we should be leading by example," insisted the Somerset MP.

Mr Rees-Mogg praised the parliamentary authorities for setting up the digital system, which saw the very first electronic vote in the Commons on Tuesday, but said it had its limitations.

“All of these factors restrict our ability to conduct effective scrutiny and to pass the volume of legislation required by the Government. I, therefore, think it's essential that we move back to physical ways of working as quickly as possible."

His Conservative colleague, Sir Charles Walker, agreed, saying: "This is where Parliament should be and I am afraid that we are in danger of bringing ourselves into disrepute."

However, Labour’s Chris Elmore raised health and safety concerns and later an Opposition spokesman said: "Today's surprise announcement that ministers expect Parliament to return to business as usual in the next few weeks and end the successful hybrid virtual system flies in the face of the Government's own public health advice and its message to work from home where possible.

"The priority must be protecting the health and well-being of all those who work in Parliament. Ministers must publish the public health advice as a matter of urgency."

Tommy Sheppard for the SNP insisted MPs must continue to be able to participate in Parliament virtually and warned that he and his colleagues would not comply with an instruction to return to London but, rather, would adhere to the Scottish Government’s “stay at home” message.

He said: "It is crucial that MPs can continue to participate in Parliament virtually. Forcing MPs to travel back and forth hundreds of miles across the UK to Westminster would create an unnecessary risk of infection in our communities and could put lives at risk.”

The Edinburgh MP then made clear: "SNP MPs will continue to follow the clear guidance in Scotland to stay at home and save lives. It has been shown Westminster can operate virtually and that is how we must continue to hold the UK Government to account.”

Mr Sheppard added: "The Tory Government must respect the different rules in each of the four nations. Enabling MPs to participate virtually is part of the new normal and must continue during this public health emergency."

Concerns about the Commons abandoning its new digital set-up were also raised by the Liberal Democrats. Its Scottish spokeswoman Wendy Chamberlain said: “Suggestions that MPs will not be able to do their job virtually from the beginning of June are deeply concerning.

“We are living through a national emergency. We have worked incredibly hard to get Parliament up and running in virtual form for exactly that reason. The current advice is that people should work at home if the can; we have proven that MPs can.”

The Lib Dem MP pointed out that as yet the Government had published no guidance as to how MPs and staff were meant to keep a two-metre distance from each other while working at Westminster.

“Perhaps most worryingly of all, MPs and staff would be further filling up public transport networks and presumably travelling back and forth to communities all over the country,” Ms Chamberlain pointed out.

The Fife MP added: “The Government must be absolutely clear why MPs need to be physically in Parliament and how Parliament can be a safe place to work so that MPs and staff do not become a factor In any future peak of the virus.”