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extension of leave to remain

Part of Coronavirus Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Paymaster General 9:00 pm, 23rd March 2020

Thank you, Dame Eleanor. The first such reason is that in the event that Parliament is not sitting, we think that the made affirmative procedure would impede our ability to manage efficiently the use of these powers. It may be difficult to make an Order in Council during a pandemic. It may be difficult safely to convene the necessary Privy Council meeting. A made affirmative instrument can be made more, and ensures that there is a vote on the extension of the Act when Parliament returns. Secondly, it is not clear from the proposed amendment whether the Act can be extended more than once. It is the unfortunate situation that with this pandemic possibly lasting longer than a year it is essential that we have the flexibility to keep the important measures in this Bill in force for longer than a year where they are needed.

I am aware of the real policy concerns behind the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden. I should also point out that without clause 76 we would have no mechanism for extending the life of the Bill, should that be needed, other than by making further primary legislation, so we could be left without vital measures for protecting public health and supporting essential public services while in the middle of the outbreak. Similarly, without clause 76 we would have no simple means of sunsetting the legislation at an earlier date if it proves to be no longer necessary.

Finally, colleagues will wish to note that the amendment would impact on the devolved Administrations without their consent.