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Coronavirus Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:37 pm on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Conservative, Winchester 6:37 pm, 23rd March 2020

Yes, I do agree. I understand why we have to do this through pay-as-you-earn first, because employers are making decisions about job losses this weekend, but I completely agree that we need to hear something from the Prime Minister on that. I understand that he will be addressing the nation this evening—we can probably all guess what is coming—when he could say something reassuring to the self-employed and to sole traders, which would be very welcome.

Finally, on emergency volunteering leave, the provisions for which are set out in clauses 7 and 8, the unpaid statutory leave that the Secretary of State has mentioned is very welcome. Clause 8 states:

“The Secretary of State must make arrangements for making payments to emergency volunteers by way of compensation –

(a) for loss of earnings;

(b) for travelling and subsistence.”

Could the Minister tell the House at what level that might sit? There seems to be a norm of 80% for the coronavirus job retention scheme, so are we looking at the same for this? I think it is a smart move, as many of our volunteers come from the older generation, so we have to find a way of filling that gap.

We need ruthless, determined, collection action to protect the NHS and to save lives, combined with scientific progress. The Bill is part—only part, I have to say—of that national effort. I have listened carefully to the many voices lobbying us on the Bill over the weekend, but I am comfortable that it is a well-judged piece of legislation that will provide the powers needed to respond to the pandemic and the national crisis that we face.