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Matt Hancock says MPs will be able to vote 'where possible' on lockdown measures
30 September 2020, 15:56 | Updated: 30 September 2020, 16:07
Matt Hancock has said MPs will be able to vote 'where possible' on lockdown measures which affect England or the UK as a whole ahead of a review of the Coronavirus Act later this evening.
In a last minute U-turn, the Health Secretary told MPs: "Today I can confirm to the House that for significant national measures, with effect in the whole of England or UK-wide, we will consult Parliament - wherever possible we will hold votes before such regulations come into force.
"But of course responding to the virus means that the Government must act with speed when required and we cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives."
MPs will vote later today on whether to renew the powers in the Coronavirus Act which enables ministers to impose sweeping controls.
'There's very real frustration on the Conservative backbenches'
In his last minute concession to MPs, Matt Hancock added that he hopes all House members will be happy with the new arrangements.
He said: "I am sure that no member of this House would want to limit the Government's ability to take emergency action in the national interest as we did in March.
"And we will continue to involve the House in scrutinising our decisions in the way the Prime Minister set out last week, with regular statements and debates and the ability for members to question the Government's scientific advisers more regularly, gain access to data about their constituencies and join daily calls with the Paymaster General.
"And I hope the new arrangements will be welcomed on all sides of the House and I will continue to listen to colleagues' concerns, as I've tried my best to do so throughout."
The Speaker condemns the government over Covid laws
The Prime Minister was was facing a rebellion on Wednesday from more than 50 Conservative backbench MPs who are angry that the Government has imposed rules without Parliament’s scrutiny.
They were set to back an amendment from Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, which would have handed Mr Johnson a defeat with opposition support.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he had rejected any amendments to a motion to extend emergency coronavirus powers to avoid “undermining the rule of law”.
Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Sir Lindsay said: “The way in which the Government has exercised its power to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory.
“All too often important statutory instruments have been published a matter of hours before they come into force and some explanations as to why important measures have come into effect before they can be laid before this house has been unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House.”