A CROSS-PARTY group of MPs, including the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, is set to try and limit the length of time the Government have to use new emergency coronavirus laws.
Legislation, which is set to be rushed through the Commons on Monday, will aim to hand over unprecedented levels of powers to ministers for the next two years.
It will allow police to legally order those with the disease not to attend work and stay in isolation. They can be forbidden from travelling and will face a £1000 fine if they don’t comply. Detaining people under the mental health act will only need one doctor’s permission, not two. And they would be able to hold a patient for 28 days.
The 329-page legislation also cuts some of the red tape on a number of existing regulations.
The bill will make it easier to expand morgues and speed up the process for organising funerals – current Government modelling suggests around 50% of deaths will occur in a three-week period.
The legislation also gives the Border Force the power to temporarily suspend operations at airports and other transport hubs Immigration officers will also be given more powers to detain people of all nationalities and direct them to screening and quarantine.
Anyone found to have the virus can be held in quarantine for 14 days.
That two-week period can then be extended by two further periods of up to 14 days if doctors still have concerns.
Both police and public health workers are entitled to enforce quarantine restrictions.
The emergency legislation is expected to be fast-tracked through all stages of the Commons on Monday, and then pass through the Lords on Wednesday and Thursday.
It’s believed there won’t be a vote called, but rather the bill will be nodded through.
However, the amendment from the cross-party group could be put to a vote.
They want to see the powers in the bill expire after six months and only be renewed further with the approval of Parliament.
Cherry tweeted: “If @BorisJohnson thinks we can ‘send the #coronavirus virus packing’ in 12 weeks how can he justify taking such extraordinary sweeping #EmergencyPowers for 2 years?
“I am genuinely puzzled & will be co-sponsoring a probing amendment on this issue.”
As well as Cherry, the amendment is supported by Labour’s Harriet Harman, and Conservative MP David Davis.
Harman told Sky News the “exceptional” powers were necessary, “but two years is too long”.
“No-one wants to stop them getting the powers they need to keep us all safe, but we need them to last no longer than is necessary.”
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