COVENTRY South MP Zarah Sultana has slammed the Government’s decision to extend the emergency powers put in place at the start of the pandemic.
Yesterday, 484 MPs voted for the Coronavirus Bill with 76 against.
Ms Sultana, one of 21 Labour MPs to vote against it, has called, instead, for the legislation to be replaced with Liberty’s Coronavirus (Rights and Support) Bill which she says will protect everyone, leaving no-one behind, whilst still safeguarding civil liberties.”
The Coronavirus (Rights and Support) Bill would repeal the powers contained in the Coronavirus Act 2020 which Liberty and others claim puts civil liberties at risk, whilst also putting in place measures to protect people in the public health crisis.
Ms Sultana added: “It is essential that Covid-19 cases are reduced to very low numbers while the vaccine is rolled out.
“This is necessary to avoid further deaths and to reduce the risk of mutations forming that the vaccine is not effective against.
“This must be done while protecting everyone’s livelihoods and civil liberties.
“But that is not the approach of this Government.
“Instead, this Government has consistently failed to put public health first, failed to provide necessary economic support, and failed to safeguard our basic rights.”
She added the approach had hit poorer and marginalised communities the hardest.
“These failures have ranged from ignoring the scientific advice to act, to refusing to put financial measures in place to protect lives and livelihoods.
“For example, more than a year ago – on March 11, 2020 – in Parliament I called on the Prime Minister to raise statutory sick pay to a real living wage.
“It was clear this was necessary to enable people to isolate when needed. But far from heeding this, sick pay has been cut in real terms this year.
“This has been a public health and social disaster, with an estimated 20,000 people a day at one stage not isolating when they needed to.
“The Government’s catastrophic handling of the pandemic means the UK now has the highest death toll in Europe, one of the highest death rates in the world, and the deepest recession of any major economy.
“People in Coventry South and across the country have made huge sacrifices through this pandemic.
“They have done what was asked of them.
“It is the Government that has failed them.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, during the debate, the Coronavirus Act had been key in the Government’s response to the virus and had paved the way for assistance, such as the furlough scheme and statutory sick pay for those self-isolating.
He added some of the measures were no longer needed because of the progress made with combating Covid but others did need to continue.