MPs vote to renew emergency coronavirus powers

30 September 2020, 17:17 | Updated: 30 September 2020, 17:30

Coronavirus restrictions have been renewed for another six months
Coronavirus restrictions have been renewed for another six months. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

MPs have approved a motion to renew emergency coronavirus powers for another six months.

The motion was passed by 330 votes to 24, a majority 306.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that the measures were "still needed to keep people safe".

It comes after ministers staged a climbdown to offer the House of Commons a greater say on new nationwide restrictions.

Earlier he had to u-turn and tell MPs they will be able to vote "where possible" on lockdown measures which affect England or the UK.

It comes after up to 50 Tory backbenchers were angry the Government has imposed restrictions without Parliament’s scrutiny .

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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.

Sir Graham Brady, one of the ringleaders of the group of Tory MPs wanting a greater role for parliament, thanked Mr Hancock for "being prepared to listen" and for "constructive conversations" in recent days.

"We are grateful than he and other members of the Government have understood the importance of proper scrutiny in this place and the benefits that can bring to better government as well," he said.

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Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour would not block the renewal of the powers.

However, he spoke out against ministers for appearing on national media with "absolutely no idea of what the rules are".

"The public is being let down on a grand scale," he said.

"The government has had virtually all the resources and brilliance of our remarkable country on demand for over six months.

"They've been able to call on the UK's remarkable frontline workers, who have shown incredible skill and bravery through this crisis.

"And yet we've ended up with one of the highest death rates in the world and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions."

'There's very real frustration on the Conservative backbenches'

Earlier on Wednesday, the Speaker of the House of Commons told MPs the Government has shown a “total disregard” for parliament over its handling of coronavirus regulations.

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 Hoyle 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.”