- A Commons vote on extending emergency coronavirus laws for another six months has passed by 484 to 76
- During the debate, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned “we’re not at the finish line yet”
MPs have voted to extend the government’s emergency COVID legislation for another six months.
Wrapping up the three and a half hour debate, Health and Social Care Minister Edward Argar says: “They are not measures any of us would choose to do were we not faced with such a grave situation,” but, he says they are “necessary”.
But chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, Sir Graham Brady, said he voted against the motion because “it is important we make the case for a return to normality and trusting people with their own lives”.
Despite opposition from some Tory backbenchers, the 2020 Coronavirus Act was passed by 484 votes to 76, a majority of 408.
MPs also approved the regulations underpinning the steps to ease restrictions from 29 March as laid out in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The Coronavirus Act was fast-tracked through parliament in four days in March 2020 to bring in emergency powers to respond to the pandemic as the UK went into its first lockdown.
Its temporary measures must be reviewed then renewed every six months and the latest extension provides the legal framework for England’s lockdown roadmap to continue as planned.
The extension until September does not mean restrictions will continue until then, with the government hoping to lift all restrictions by 21 June.
Martyn Day, Public Health and Primary Care spokesperson for the Scottish National Party, has urged the government to think again about measures on the UK’s borders.
He called on the UK government to follow the Scottish government’s example and impose hotel quarantine on arrivals for the whole of the UK, in order to keep the virus – and new variants – in check.
He said studies showed travel from European countries had accounted for 86% of imported cases in the UK between May and September and accused the UK government of ignoring expert advice.
Mr Day said the SNP had serious concerns about the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the powers contained in the Coronavirus Act and said reviews of the measures “must have teeth” because it was “important parliament has its say”.
“I say this, not in an attempt to hamstring the government, but to help it do better.”
“More needs to be done to restore public trust, in the handling of contracts…there needs to be reassurance that errors over the timing of lockdowns will not occur again – but above everything else, we need to act now to stop new strains coming into the country – so I urge the government to think again on measures at the borders.”
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