Emergency legislation to pass through Commons unopposed

Published by Scott Challinor on March 17th 2020, 12:40pm

Emergency legislation concerning the coronavirus outbreak and the newly announced Budget will pass through the Commons unopposed this week.

MPs are expected to complete the Budget debate on Tuesday and approve it without a division being called.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to prime minister, Boris Johnson, calling for cross-party co-operation on coronavirus related legislation, which could be put to MPs as early as Thursday.

Corbyn said that his aim was to ensure that concerns from opposition parties were heeded in the drafting up of the legislation, rather than having to delay its passing by debating it.

Speaking in the Commons, health minister Edward Argar hailed his colleagues from opposition parties for their “constructive approach” to addressing the outbreak, calling them “good and decent people”.

Argar added: “Their approach is a prime example of how we can work together during this crisis”.

Meanwhile, the Commons clerk has recommended a number of procedural changes to be enacted as the pandemic wears on, including reducing the number of MPs allowed in the chamber at one time and postponing non-essential business.

Other suggested changes include allowing MPs to voice a “for” or “against” preference rather than voting in division lobbies and using video-conferences more frequently for committee meetings.

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Karen Bradley, said: "We are examining the appropriate and responsible steps to take to ensure that the core work of the House continues in a responsible manner.

"Implementation of any changes to the way the House functions will be a matter for the Speaker or the House, in consultation with the government and the House authorities."

As things stand, no new arrangements have been made for Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
March 17th 2020, 12:40pm

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