Covid: Tory MPs bid to increase scrutiny over coronavirus rules


Police patrol through Soho as bars prepare to close in LondonImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

Police patrol Soho in London, after ministers told pubs and restaurants to close earlier from Thursday

More than 40 Conservative MPs are backing an attempt to increase parliamentary scrutiny over further coronavirus restrictions in England.

Senior Tory Sir Graham Brady has tabled an amendment that would see the House of Commons to debate and vote on any future such measures.

It comes as MPs prepare to consider government legislation that will keep Covid-19 emergency powers in force.

The government said it was consulting MPs on public health measures.

The Coronavirus Act – which was passed in March – gave ministers emergency powers to respond to the pandemic but they were time-limited and need to be renewed by the House of Commons next week.

But a number of MPs are worried about how restrictions – including the limiting of pub and restaurant opening hours and the ban on meetings of more than six people – are being imposed.

Sir Graham, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, has argued that too much power has been left in ministers’ hands, with too little scrutiny.

The list of MPs who have signed up to back Sir Graham’s amendment covers a wide spectrum from those newly elected last year, through to some committee chairs and former ministers.

Senior Tory Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: “It’s disgraceful that really very far-reaching powers, curtailing people’s civil liberties, have just been pushed through without a proper debate in Parliament.”

‘Work closely’

Former minister Tobias Ellwood also backed the amendment, tweeting that six months after the act was passed it was time for “parliamentary oversight to return”.

The amendment may not end up being debated or put to a vote when MPs consider the legislation next week.

But BBC political correspondent Helen Catt said that the number of Tory rebels suggested a real possibility of defeat for Prime Minister Boris Johnson – whose Commons majority is just under 80 – if it does go to a vote.

A Downing Street spokesman said ministers understood MPs and their constituents “would be concerned about coronavirus”.

They added that the government continued to “work closely with MPs” and was happy to be held to account.





BBC News