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extension of leave to remain

Part of Coronavirus Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 8:30 pm, 23rd March 2020

I am always grateful for updates on the rolling news, so I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. This must be a rare example of a shadow Minister having called for something at the start of a debate and its having appeared before we have finished the debate. The Prime Minister is responsive on that if nothing else.

Even in this situation, proportionality and necessity still apply. It is clear that powers to detain potentially infectious people, including children in isolation facilities, will have to be implemented in a sensitive way. It is necessary to postpone elections, as set out in clause 57, but we still have to do all we can to maintain our democracy. I welcomed the Speaker’s statement setting out any moves we can make to vote in a different way and to operate in a far more digital and remote way than has been the case in the past.

Let me turn to new clause 4 and the issues it raises. Quite simply, if we are to ask people to sacrifice their freedom by staying at home and subjecting themselves to the measures set out by Mr Baker, their basic means of living must be catered for as well. There are some specific measures in the Bill, but I commend to the Minister amendments 74 to 78, on lowering the threshold for eligibility for statutory sick pay, and new clauses 32 to 34, on the extension of statutory sick pay to the self-employed and its uprating.

Before I move on to some of the other economic measures, particularly in the Government’s new amendment, let me refer to new clause 35. A number of right hon. and hon. Members from all parties have raised the issue of access to personal protective equipment. New clause 35 sets out the importance of that to the Opposition by defining it as part of the Minister’s role to make sure that that equipment is provided to everybody who needs it. That is the imperative that the Opposition put on that, and I hope the Government will do all they can to ensure that not one person in this country does not have the personal protective equipment that they need to keep us all safe.