Parliament must directly approve any new coronavirus restrictions before they go into effect, a prominent Conservative MP has told the BBC.
Sir Graham said ministers had “made a habit of deciding by executive order” on the matter, citing the “imposition” of the six-limit rule on social gatherings.
He said that today public opinion on Radio 4 is “moving” and that the government cannot take its support for granted.
His warning comes as new measures are being considered to deal with the rise in cases.
Government medical and scientific officials will later give a televised briefing on the current state of the pandemic and the challenges the UK faces during the winter months.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the outlook they would present was “very grim” and the government may need to take action “extremely quickly” if existing brakes did not reduce the number of infections.
MPs will vote next week on whether to continue allowing the government to use powers contained in the Coronavirus Act, an emergency legislative measure accelerated by Parliament in late March.
It gives the government a wide range of emergency powers, although most of the Covid lockdown laws were imposed using regulations under the 1984 Public Health Act, which come into effect before a parliamentary vote. .
Sir Graham, who is chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, said the six-month review of the March bill was welcome, but that Parliament needed to be much more involved in the review and approval of what he termed “truly extreme emergency powers”.
While admitting that the current situation was “serious”, he said that did not prevent the government from acting without recourse to Parliament – as he suggested it had happened when it “imposed The six-limit rule in England.
If there had been a debate on the measures, he said ministers would have been forced to justify why children were included in the maximum number, unlike Scotland, and what the criteria would be for relaxing the restrictions.
“The government has made a habit, when it comes to the coronavirus issue, of ruling by decree without the usual debates, discussions and votes in Parliament that we would expect on any other matter,” he said.
“The British are not used to being treated like children.
“We expect this country to have a parliamentary democracy where our representatives elected on our behalf can demand appropriate responses to these and not just some imposed. ”
Many MPs are concerned about Parliament’s marginalization during the pandemic, while UK’s oldest former judge Lady Hale has suggested he has ‘given up his role’ by allowing laws to be passed “Radical and draconian” in a few hours of debate.
In an essay published on Monday, the former President of the Supreme Court said she hoped the UK could return “to a properly functioning constitution as soon as possible”.
Sir Graham said there was no excuse for the lack of parliamentary debate, adding that “governments find it quite possible to bring things quickly to Parliament when it suits them”.
While he believed MPs would have given their “overwhelming” support for the national lockdown in late March, had there been a vote on the issue, he was not sure they would approve such a blanket stop again.
“I think opinion in the country and in Parliament is starting to move,” he said.
- Labor criticizes pandemic ‘cavalier’ spending
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Shapps defended the speed at which the government had to make “often very difficult decisions”, saying he believed he had acted at all times “with the consent of the British people”.
“We are not in normal times, when we have the luxury of having more time,” he said. “Sometimes the government has to act very quickly.”
He dismissed reports of a “row” within the government over the next steps, insisting that ministers “were rightly … debating through the points – looking from all angles.”
The Labor Party has signaled that it will support further restrictions in the coming days, urging ministers not to delay action after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a ‘second wave’ of the virus had arrived.
But MPs are urging the government not to repeat some of the “mistakes” it made the first time around.
The Commons Human Rights Committee said that “confusion over what the law is and what is mere guidance has left citizens exposed to disproportionate and unequal levels of punishment for violating the rules “.
“Sadly, it appears that once again this is blatantly affecting BAME individuals,” he said in a new report.
“The government must learn from these mistakes to ensure that any further lockdown does not unfairly affect specific groups.