The Government will today start to rush through emergency measures in the Coronavirus Bill. It is expected to pass all stages in the House of Commons today. The House of Lords will debate the Bill tomorrow and Wednesday.
COVID-19 is a national and international crisis. In these extreme times, extreme measures can be justified. It is clear from reports over the weekend that many people are ignoring medical advice to stay indoors, or, if they leave home, distance themselves from others. Those who are acting selfishly and irresponsibly are making it easy for those who advocate draconian measures to get their way.
The sweeping powers which are expected to pass both House of Parliament will affect all our lives. Those who refuse to self-isolate when told to do so, will be forced to. Quite why anyone would take the risk of infecting others, is beyond most of us, but it is clear that those behaving in such a way need to be dealt with.
What The Freedom Association could not have supported was Parliament granting the Government these emergency powers for two years. This is far too long. David Davis, Harriet Harman, and Andrew Mitchell, signed a cross-party amendment which would have put a sunset clause on the legislation of one year. But that was also too long.
In our opinion, a six-month sunset clause is about the right length of time. We are pleased that the legislation will be reviewed in September. It is a measured and proportionate response, and it still allows the Government to implement measures it feels is necessary to protect the public from COVID-19.