Over the past couple of weeks I have received a lot emails from people who are unhappy with the emergency Coronavirus legislation, including the amendment put forward by Steve Baker MP. I appreciate the strength of feeling that he and other Members have on this issue, but the Speaker did not select his amendment so it was not voted on.
Yesterday, I joined the vast majority of MPs in voting to extend this legislation for a further 6 months. These powers are justifiable only to deal with the pandemic and must not become 'business as usual'. I really want constituents to know that this is not going to become the 'new normal' and we must only have these powers in place for as long as they are necessary.
With the roadmap back to normal life published, and the end of the need for restrictions in sight, I support the Government in maintaining the Act's powers only for so long as is required and I will be looking carefully at what is proposed when any use of powers is likely. It's also worth noting that some of the powers which the Government no longer deemed necessary have already been given up.
There is much in this Act, such as the provisions on statutory sick pay, which are about supporting constituents, rather than restricting freedom and it is important that those continue to be available, in the interest of constituents who continue to need financial and other means of support as their lives move towards a return to normal. Lastly, we have a road map out of this lock down and I think it is right that we stick with it.
My full contribution to the debate can be found below:
My hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Dr Spencer) was clear about the desire of his constituents to move on from these restrictions. Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner is no different in that respect—people have borne with fortitude the restrictions on their lives.
However, I very much support of extending the measures before us this evening, and I will support the Government. It is clear that there have been a number of false dawns on the way away from the impact that covid has had on all our communities. There have been times when we thought we had it on the run but it became more of a problem, and more of our residents died or were seriously ill as a consequence, so we need to make sure that we have a package of measures in place that will enable the Government and the country to support all our citizens and communities. While I completely understand that we are chafing against a number of the restrictions in the legislation, there are far more important elements that are entirely about support for businesses and people who are affected.
As we look forward to that road map, with businesses of different kinds reopening and people being welcomed back to our high streets and shopping centres, and to activities such as sport and the arts, which have had to go into the deep freeze during this covid period, it is absolutely vital that we have these backstop powers so that if there is a resurgence of covid, perhaps from a mutation, the Government are able to act swiftly and respond to dampen that down and keep our people safe. For all those reasons, I support what is before us and will support the Government this evening.