Powers under the Coronavirus Act, which was passed early in the COVID-19[feminine[feminine pandemic in March, must be renewed by parliament every six months.
MPs approved the motion by 330 to 24 – a majority of 306 – after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons the measures were “still needed to keep people safe.”
But the government had previously been forced to offer the concession of greater consultation of parliamentarians – and a vote of the Commons “whenever possible” – on new coronavirus lockout restrictions before they come into effect.
Following discussions between the government and a group of Conservative MPs hoping to have more of a say on COVID-19 measures, Hancock announced the terms of a Commons peace deal.
‘I can confirm to the House that for important national measures with effect across England, or across the UK, we will consult Parliament – where possible, we will hold votes before such regulations are ‘come into force,’ he said.
However, Mr Hancock warned that “responding to the virus means the government must act swiftly when necessary and we cannot block the urgent regulations needed to control the virus and save lives.”
The Health Secretary also announced that changes to mental health legislation, which means that a person can be detained on the advice of a single doctor, will be removed from the coronavirus law.
“These were always powers of last resort and I was not convinced, even at the top, that they were needed because our mental health services have shown incredible resilience and resourcefulness,” said he declared.
Sir Graham Brady, one of the leaders of the group of Conservative MPs urging a bigger role for parliament, thanked Mr Hancock for “being ready to listen” and for “constructive conversations” in recent days.
“We are grateful that he and other members of the government understood the importance of proper oversight in this place and the benefits that can bring to better government,” he said.
Labor shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said his party will not block the renewal of powers.
But he criticized ministers for appearing in national media with “absolutely no idea what the rules are.”
“The public is disappointed on a large scale,” he said.
“The government has had virtually all the resources and the brilliance of our remarkable country on demand for over six months.
“They were able to call on the remarkable frontline workers in the UK, who have shown incredible skill and courage during this crisis.
“And yet we ended up with one of the highest death rates in the world and on the brink of one of the deepest recessions. ”
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Earlier on Wednesday, House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned the government of its use of emergency coronavirus powers.
He told ministers that the way they had exercised their powers by introducing anti-coronavirus measures was “totally unsatisfactory”, as he criticized them for publishing the laws only “a few hours before they came into force”.
“Some of the explanations as to why important measures came into force before they could be tabled in this House have not been convincing and show complete contempt for the House,” Sir Lindsay said.
“The government must redouble its efforts to prepare measures more quickly, so that this House can debate and decide on the most important measures as soon as possible. “
The President urged the government to “remedy a situation which I consider to be totally unsatisfactory”, adding: “I now count on the government to restore confidence with this House and not treat it with the contempt it has shown” .
Sir Lindsay had also ruled that he would not allow Sir Graham’s proposed amendment to Wednesday’s motion to renew coronavirus credentials, as the president expressed fears it would risk “uncertainty as to the decision. taken by the House ”.
Sir Graham had wanted to amend the motion as part of his attempt to give MPs more say on the new coronavirus restrictions, with 80 Conservative MPs – as well as MPs from other parties – who would have been willing to have supported him.
However, the fruitful talks with the government appear to have met the rebel group’s demands without the need to push for a legislative solution.