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extension of leave to remain

Part of Coronavirus Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow 9:30 pm, 23rd March 2020

I concur with Mr Baker: although supporting this legislation is absolutely the right thing to do, we must make sure that scrutiny remains and that his and the Opposition’s warnings are heeded by the Government.

I express my deepest sympathies for those who have already lost their lives in my constituency and around the country, and I pay tribute to the emergency workers around the country who, right now, need our support and direct, immediate action from the Government to give them the PPE they lack.

Here in London, we are at the frontline. There are densely populated areas in my constituency and around the city with huge amounts of overcrowding, intergenerational living and high health risks, which means that, ahead of the challenges spreading around the country, we face challenges now.

We have had several reports of major problems in my constituency in the last week. Doctors and clinicians at the Royal London Hospital have described the situation as being like a warzone, and others have said that they are already having to make devastating decisions—choosing between who to save and who dies. They speak of collateral damage and of doctors having to order equipment online. I echo the importance of making sure that PPE is sent to people immediately.

Care home outbreaks are of great concern around the country. Vulnerable people are at risk, so I have a few questions for the Minister. First, we need to make sure that Mildmay Mission Hospital does not close on 31 March, as is still being planned. It is utterly scandalous to see AIDS sufferers who need care being thrown out of hospital into the NHS, when the NHS will not be able to cope. I also ask the Secretary of State to ensure that councils such as mine get the help that they need, because they are at breaking point already. My discussions last week have highlighted just how difficult it is for them to be able to feed some of the poorest people in the country. Other councils will have the same problem, with millions living in poverty. Those people will be trapped and left in complete devastation. We need action now for councils.

GPs are reporting that they are running out of inhalers. My colleagues in other constituencies have fed us information so that we could pass it on to Ministers. The Government need to act to ensure that the 1 million or so undocumented workers do not become a risk to public health, because they will continue to work if they are not stopped and not given an amnesty. I hope that the Government have taken that on board. I imagine that that has not been addressed yet, because that is also a public health emergency.

I welcome what the Government are doing on burial. I congratulate my hon. Friend Naz Shah on her leadership on this, but we need to ensure that local authorities work together so that the burial facilities are available.

Finally, Madam Deputy Speaker, many thousands of people will be stranded in other countries. We need an evacuation plan, in the light of the Prime Minister’s remarks, to get them back to our country safely. I thank the Minister and the Government for their work.