A number of constituents got in touch with me ahead of last week’s renewal of the Coronavirus Act to outline their concerns about the sweeping powers the act gives to the Government. As you may be aware by now, the second six-month review of the temporary powers granted by the Act passed extending the Act for a further six months.
As I have outlined repeatedly as part of my role as Shadow Minister for Disabled People I have been particularly concerned that in the past the Coronavirus Act 2020 have allowed local authorities to suspend parts of the Care Act 2014. These Care Act easements have now been removed and want to recognise the role that Deaf and Disabled People organisations have played in securing this significant victory.
Given the wide-ranging powers of the Act I have worked closely with my colleagues in Parliament to scrutinise this legislation at every opportunity and to ensure that any exercise of executive power or administrative action is measured against human rights and common-law standards.
The past year has been incredibly difficult and I know that many people in Lewisham Deptford have lost loved ones or are navigating the countless challenges posed by the pandemic. We are not yet out of the woods but the path out of the pandemic has been provided by our amazing scientists, our NHS staff and volunteers who are making incredible progress with the vaccine rollout.
Supported by the increased protection offered by these vaccines the Government has set out its plan to ease restrictions with the aim to have all legal limits on social contact removed by 21 June 2021. I am pleased that the Government has adopted a cautious approach to lifting restrictions. Throughout this crisis Labour has urged the Government to act responsibly and with urgency to take effective actions to control the spread of the virus. As we leave this third national lockdown I believe Ministers must assess the data and follow the evidence at every step to ensure that the progress we have made is not lost.
In the meantime I believe that continued restrictions must be accompanied by proper economic support. For this lockdown to be the last we need to continue to cut the chains of transmission. It is therefore more important than ever that the test, trace and isolate system, which has so far cost the public £37 billion, is effective. Financial support for people who are required to self-isolate should also be made available to everyone who needs it and as I have raised repeatedly legacy benefits should also receive the £20 uplift.
I will continue to hold the Government to account and ensure that the Coronavirus Act is kept under review.