The Government’s Emergency Bill in response to the COVID-19 crisis is necessary. There is an urgent need to address the challenges facing the health service, effectively contain the virus, support workers and businesses and protect the vulnerable.
As your MP, my job is to represent the needs of all residents. As the party of opposition, Labour’s job is to scrutinise the Government and hold it to account. We would not be doing our duty if we simply waived this Bill through. It is vitally important that this Bill does what it is intended to do in the best way possible. Those with the quietest voices in our society must be heard and nothing must be over-looked. The amendments that we are bringing forward are for the sole purpose of improving the effectiveness and the fairness of the Bill.
People understand the need for temporary restrictions to our way of life. But I believe it is sensible to review this legislation every six-months, up to the proposed two years, with a vote in the House of Commons. The Bill’s powers are far-reaching, and the situation is fast-moving. It makes sense to be able to review and respond in this way.
Currently, the government’s proposed package of support for workers and businesses – particularly small businesses, the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts – is inadequate. This must change. The Government must ensure everyone has enough to live on whatever their circumstances. Nor should anyone be made homeless. In line with the proposed mortgage holidays, rent needs to be suspended for those adversely affected by the impact of the crisis. The government’s three-month ban on evictions should be extended to six months, in line with the renewal period we propose for the emergency legislation.
Myself and my office are continuing to provide advice and support for the constituency through my Facebook page, and can be contacted directly by letter, phone or e-mail.