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Coronavirus Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:01 pm, 23rd March 2020

I know that the hon. Gentleman speaks from experience of having presided over these events. That is available—increasingly so—and I entirely understand why many people would want that.

The fifth and final part of the Bill includes measures to protect and support people through this crisis. This is not an exhaustive list of everything we plan to do, but the principle is that no one should be punished for doing the right thing and self-isolating if they or someone in their household has symptoms. To make that happen, the Bill will ensure that statutory sick pay is paid from day one, and this will be applied retrospectively from 13 March. Small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will get a full refund for sick pay relating to coronavirus during the course of the emergency. Finally, the Bill will require industry to provide information about food supplies. That all comes alongside our plan for people’s jobs and incomes announced by the Chancellor on Friday.

The Bill allows the four UK Governments to activate these powers when they are needed and to deactivate them when they are no longer needed. We ask for these powers as a whole to protect life. We will relinquish them as soon as the threat to life from coronavirus has passed. This Bill means that we can do the right thing at the right time, guided by the best possible science. That science gets better every day. This disease can isolate us, but it cannot separate us from the ties that bind us together. With patience and resolve, with the painstaking use of data and evidence, and with the whole nation working together as one United Kingdom, we will get through this. I commend the Bill to the House.