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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor 12:30 pm, 19th March 2020

Through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I thank Mr Speaker for the pace at which he brought through the changes to the way we operate here in respect of social distancing and our practices? That was the right thing to do. It seems to me that, given the scale and pace of the coronavirus spread and the threat to life, health, incomes and jobs throughout the country, it is quite right that the Government bring forward emergency legislation briskly and want to see it go through the House briskly, but it is equally right that Parliament has the opportunity to scrutinise the legislation. I have a couple of questions along those lines. First, is there a particular reason why the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 was not used? It already contains many of the safeguards that I suspect the House will wish to see.

Secondly, if the emergency legislation is passed—I hope it is, given the circumstances, albeit possibly with a few modifications—what other opportunities will there be for the House to question particular measures? This is a dynamic and fast-moving situation, and it may well be that within literally 48 or 72 hours one of the measures adopted results in perhaps 1 million or 2 million unemployed people with nowhere to go. What other opportunities will there be for the House to hold the Government to account quickly, should it prove necessary