THE UK Government has been accused of risking a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak by ending the hybrid Westminster Parliament and placing MPs in a terrible dilemma by having to “choose between their families and their jobs”.

On Wednesday, Jacob-Rees Mogg, the Commons Leader, declared the hybrid Parliament over, ending its digital dimension and calling on all MPs to return in person to Westminster on June 2.

He pledged the Commons would be “Covid-19 secure” by then and argued the hybrid set-up had cut the time available for debating legislation by around two-thirds and so had hindered "proper scrutiny" of the Government.

MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg insisted, had a “duty…to return to doing our work thoroughly and properly and effectively”.

But Angus Brendan MacNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, insisted he would not be returning to the Commons until it was safe to do so and described the Government’s decision to end the hybrid Parliament as a “terrible calamity”.

Asked if he was going to return on June 2, he told The Herald: “No. Not until it’s safe. I would not be forgiven in my constituency if I went to London and was infected by Covid-19.”

Mr MacNeil said it was “inevitable” some of his colleagues would also refuse to go back to Westminster.

“This doesn’t have to happen,” he declared. “This is again what happens when you are ruled by the Tories far away in London. This is nothing to do with health; this is to do with Boris’s under-performance at PMQs. A number of Tory MPs have told me that privately,” declared Mr MacNeil, who chairs the Commons International Trade Committee.

Asked if the Government, in its call for hundreds of MPs to return to Westminster, risked sparking a second wave of the virus, given many would be returning to their constituencies on a regular basis, Mr MacNeil replied: “Yes. They are. It’s an unacceptably silly risk when there is a way round this and that’s the virtual Parliament at the moment. There is no reason to be doing this at all and it’s a very foolish thing to be doing.”

Another Scottish backbencher declared: “Bring the hybrid Parliament back or we will have another peak. It’s in the public interest to continue the safe digital sessions for as long as possible.”

The SNP leadership is due to meet next week to discuss the party’s approach but it is expected that senior figures will return on June 2 given a number of important bills, like the Immigration Bill, are due to proceed through Parliament before the July recess.

However, The Herald understands no Nationalist MP will be forced to return as some will either have underlying health conditions themselves or be living with someone who is in the highly vulnerable category and is shielding at home.

Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, the furthest flung MP, representing Orkney and Shetland, who fought to retain the hybrid Parliament, said he would be “reluctantly returning” to London to hold the Government to account.

“If things remain as they are, I will have to go back to London. The alternative to travelling is to leave the field open to the Conservatives, which is not responsible. So, I will be reluctantly returning next month. But once I’m there, I will be staying there. I’m not going to risk the weekly commute, it’s not responsible for my family and my neighbours.”

The party's Chief Whip also pointed out that parliamentary colleagues had underlying health problems and were with relatives shielding at home. “People are being pulled in different directions and having to choose between their families and their jobs. It’s scandalous.”

Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said the reason why the Government wanted MPs to return was to get its legislation through. “The problem for the Government is that they have 30 or so bills to get through. We are happy to do that through virtual voting but the Government is not.”

The Edinburgh MP pointed out that only 50 MPs were allowed in the chamber under the social distancing rules, “so without virtual contributions there will be less scrutiny not more as the Government suggests”.

However, the West Sussex Conservative MP Henry Smith denounced what he called "work-shy social and nationalist MPs,” who had tried to keep the remote Parliament going beyond June 2.

A fellow Tory also defended the physical return of MPs, saying they should be “taking a lead” as the lockdown measures were eased.

He said: “With increased creativity, the Commons could cope with more MPs so long as we abide by the safety measures like social distancing. But I do admit to having concerns about the voting lobbies.”

A few days ago, a trial vote was undertaken with Commons staff observing the two-metre rule. It took the best part of an hour because social distancing meant the queue of people stretched back hundreds of yards from the chamber down a long corridor to Westminster Hall.

At a meeting of the Commons Commission this week, it was said Mr Rees-Mogg had come up with some “bizarre” suggestions for increasing the number of MPs in the chamber.

One source at the meeting said one idea proferred by the Commons Leader was to create “perspex pods” around MPs on the green benches, complete with their own individual oxygen supply.

“To say our jaws hit the floor would not be an exaggeration," said the source. "It was total nuts.”

Meanwhile, the leadership of the trade union, which represents security guards, catering staff and other parliamentary workers, also warned that a full return of Parliament risked a serious coronavirus outbreak at Westminster.

The Public and Commercial Services union stressed that even with social distancing and protective equipment, staff working on the parliamentary estate would not be safe.

The union said it would continue to work with the health and safety team at Westminster and was not intending to impinge on the "democratic function" of the Commons.

But it believed that the planned return to business as usual next month was premature.

Mark Serwotka, the union's General Secretary, said: "It takes incredible guts to take a stand on safety when there is incredible pressure on Parliament to fully reopen.

"Our members take enormous pride in keeping Parliament secure and functioning. This, in fact, goes to the heart of why they do not believe it is safe for MPs, themselves and their colleagues to fully reopen Parliament."

The union chief urged ministers to reach an agreement with unions on the way forward that would ensure full democratic participation in Parliament while keeping workers safe.