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Coronavirus Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda 6:31 pm, 23rd March 2020

All right. Let us stand on these things; they are the ones that matter. The Solicitor General rang me the other day and made the important point that we are suspending, very unusually, the normal process in allowing Ministers to switch powers on and off. All of these things are extraordinary in peacetime.

There are some things we have to do simultaneously, and they have to happen at the same time. First, there must be a deal for sole traders and the self-employed. I have had people ringing up my office in floods of tears worrying about how they are going to make ends meet over the next few weeks, and they need an answer to that urgently. Undoubtedly, because of the ludicrous misbehaviour of so many of our fellow citizens in the past few days, we will have to move forward with enforced measures. That must happen, but it cannot happen before the Government put in place provisions for sole traders and the self-employed.

We have to put much more protection in place for our NHS staff. Every single fashion brand in this country, from Marks and Spencer through to Burberry, should be ringing up the Government now to say, “What can we do to provide more personal protective equipment for staff?” Many local councils, including my own, have hardly a stitch to give their key workers. We need to give them that protection.