Proposed amendments to the Coronavirus Bill

On Monday, Parliament will consider the Coronavirus Bill as fast-track legislation, which the government is using with the aim of having all stages of the Bill dealt with by the Commons and the Lords on Monday.

The Bill deals with a wide range of issues relating to Coronavirus, from registering health professionals more easily to legal requirements relating to cremations and inquests. The explanatory notes to the Bill give an overview of it.

A number of amendments have been tabled by MPs. The amendments can be viewed here. I have summarised some that seem particularly important below.

  • Amendment 1 (Harriet Harman): This amendment would cause the Act to automatically expire 6 months (rather than 2 years) after it is passed, unless Parliament agreed to a 6 month extension. The amendment is backed by Conservative MPs David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, Joanna Cherry from the SNP, Alistair Carmichael and Layla Moran from the Lib Dems and Caroline Lucas from the Greens, amnongst others. Jeremy Corbyn has put down a similar amendment (amendment 4) for the Labour Party.
  • Amendment 8 (David Davis): This removes the ability to alter the expiry date for provisions in the Bill.
  • New Clause 2 (Chris Bryant): This provides for debates to be held promptly on amendable motions (which means Parliament can pass a motion expressing a view) on status reports that the government needs to make every 2 months on provisions of the Bill that impinge most on civil liberties. It also means Parliament can terminate the exercising of powers under the Act by not approving the related status report it receives. Chris Bryant has also tabled New Clause 3, which provides for Parliament to be recalled from adjournment or prorogation to debate the 2 monthly status reports.
  • New Clause 4 (Jeremy Corbyn): This requires the Prime Minister to make, and lay before Parliament, arrangements to ensure that everyone in the United Kingdom has access to the basic means of living including food, water, fuel, clothing, income and housing, employing all available statutory and prerogative powers.
  • New Clause 5 (Sir Jeffrey M Donaldson): This requires the government to issue guidance on identification, support and assistance for victims of slavery or human trafficking during the coronavirus emergency.
  • New Clause 6 (Bob Seely): This creates a power for the Secretary of State, or relevant Minister in the devolved Administrations, to issue a direction to ferry, bus and rail operators to: (a) work together to produce a plan for the continuing provision of a resilient transport service to isolated and island communities; and (b) implement the plan to a specified timescale.
  • New Clause 7 and New Schedule 1 (Stuart C McDonald): This amendment requires the Secretary of State to consult with the Chief Medical Officer or one of the Deputy Chief Medical Officers on the impact of no recourse to public funds rules on preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination. The Secretary of State must then make such amendments to no recourse to public funds rules as considered necessary in light of the consultation. There is a similar requirement to consult with the Chief Medical Officer on immigration detention and assylum processes. There is also a requirement to to end the detention of any individual who cannot be removed imminently, consistent with preventing, protecting against, controlling and providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination. The New Schedule also requires the Secretary of State to allow for leave to remain for individuals whose previous leave expires during the period in which the Act is in force, or whose leave expired in the 14 days prior to the date on which the Act is passed.
  • New Clause 8 (Munira Wilson): This requires a school or provider of 16 to 18 education that closes because of the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that its pupils continue to receive educational provision (e.g. through videoconferencing or setting assignments).
  • New Clause 9 (Munira Wilson): This significantly increases the standard allowance of universal credit, jobseekers’ allowance and employment and support allowance so that for the tax year beginning on 6 April 202: (a) an individual not in work will be awarded at least £150 per week, and (b) a couple who are both not in work will be awarded at least £260a week. It also provides that for the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020, households newly claiming universal credit receive an advance of their first payment by default and suspends the sanctions regime for claimants of universal credit, jobseeker’s allowance and Employment and Support Allowance in the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020.
  • New Clause 11 (Munira Wilson): This increases statutory sick pay from £94.25 to £220.
  • New Clause 13 (Munira Wilson): This creates a system of statutory self-employment pay set at: (a) 80% of monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or (b) £2,917 whichever is lower.
  • New Clause 14 (Munira Wilson): This requires that within 10 days of the Bill being passed the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a comprehensive report outlining how the Government will guarantee provisions for social care while the Act is in force.

UPDATE: I understand Labour is in the process of putting down additional amendments.

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