PM rebuked by Commons Speaker ahead of crunch vote on lockdown rules

30 September 2020, 12:49 | Updated: 30 September 2020, 12:57

The Speaker condemns the government over Covid laws

By Asher McShane

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has accused Boris Johnson's Government of showing a "total disregard" for Parliament as he allowed an important vote this evening on coronavirus powers to proceed unamended.

In the Commons ahead of PMQs, Sir Lindsay fired off a volley at the government accusing it of treating the house with "contempt" and telling MPs he would not be selecting any amendments in the vote later.

A growing number of MPs are angry at the government for repeatedly putting in place new coronavirus laws without Commons debates or votes being held first.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said there would be no amendments to the vote later
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said there would be no amendments to the vote later. Picture: PA

MPs will vote later today on whether to renew the powers in the Coronavirus Act which enables ministers to impose sweeping controls.

Read more: The latest developments LIVE

Nearly 60 Tory MPs had signed the amendment by Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, requiring the Government to consult Parliament.

The rebellion would have handed Mr Johnson a defeat with opposition support.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he had not selected any amendments to avoid "undermining the rule of law."

He told MPs that the Government had used its powers to make legislation under the Coronavirus Act during the crisis in a "totally unsatisfactory" manner.

"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," he said.

But he said that the advice he had received was that any amendment "risks giving rise to uncertainty" about the decision of the House because only 90 minutes were available for the debate.

"This then risks decisions that are rightly the responsibility of Parliament ultimately being determined by the courts," he added.

Ministers have been working to quell the backbench revolt in discussions with some of the leaders.

One of the rebels, Steve Baker, said Sir Lindsay had made an "entirely reasonable" decision but continued to hope for a compromise from the Government.

"I hope and expect to reach a good compromise with the Government shortly so we can advance as one team," Mr Baker said.