Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:59 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 3:59 pm, 13th October 2020

I welcome the opportunity to make a short number of points to the Government about these statutory instruments. First, I welcome the fact that they have set out with clarity and granularity how the system will work, and that we have the chance to debate these measures today. As the Prime Minister said last night, the evidence behind some of the statutory instruments is, at best, imperfect, and I am particularly concerned about the evidence for the 10 o’clock curfew. That curfew may or may not be necessary, but in my constituency, many people are leaving the hospitality sector at 10 o’clock and going to local shops to buy alcohol. They are moving from a covid-secure environment, usually to a less covid-secure environment. If the Minister wants to make the case that SI 2020 No. 1029 is necessary, I suggest that he introduces a statutory instrument that allows for local restrictions on the purchase time for alcohol.

I welcome the fact that the restrictions are time limited in a number of cases, and I accept that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments will need to make quick decisions. Why is the proposed expiry date for a number of these statutory instruments not three months but six months? If there is any indication that we need to increase that period, will the House get to debate that? Will there be a 28-day review in the House of all the statutory instruments?

The Prime Minister was absolutely right last night when he said that we need to build consensus, and the Minister will not be surprised to hear that, as a south London MP, I am particularly concerned about a London-wide lockdown, which would impact 9 million people. All restrictions must be applied proportionately. Merton, which includes Wimbledon, has one of the lowest infection rates in London, but many boroughs in different parts of London are affected. At what level would a London restriction be applied, and will it be agreed by borough leaders and not just the Mayor? Will the Minister confirm that for London, like the rest of the country, restrictions will be on a borough-by-borough, ward-by-ward basis? It is difficult to see the rationale for a London-wide imposition of new restrictions.