Calls to repeal the Coronavirus Act

The measures in the Coronavirus Act are temporary, and proportionate to the threat we face. The Act completed its stages in the House of Commons with the support of Opposition parties and without a division being called. While I understand you would like to see those powers ended more quickly, the correspondence I have received on the subject covers a range of views, most of which support the shape of legislation Parliament has passed over the last year. The hard work everyone in society has put in to defeating the virus, through cooperation with the measures which science has shown prevent its spread, is something I welcome. I do not underestimate the difficulty and distress the restrictions have caused in society or the economy, but I am also clear that unless we defeat this virus comprehensively now, we risk yo-yoing in and out of restrictions for a long time to come.

The excellent progress of the vaccination programme, backed up by testing, means that we are on course to come out of restrictions in accordance with the roadmap. While I do not expect the “not before” dates for the nearest stages of the roadmap move earlier, if it is possible to accelerate any aspect of lifting restrictions in a safe way, I will urge Ministers to do so. I have done this previously, for instance to benefit pubs and the hospitality trade. I have also urged Ministers to ensure that children are got back into school as quickly as possible, as the effect of the pandemic on their education and development is a very troubling aspect of it. I have been working on proposals for the long-term reform of the education system – detailed on this link - and it is a subject I will continue to pursue to help young people as we move forwards again.

The Government has extended the range of financial and economic supports available to people who have been affected by the Covid outbreak, and it is detailed on the website. I welcomed the measures in the Budget last week, including the Solent Freeport and the announcement of the “Levelling Up Fund” and other supports which I will be encouraging our local authorities to bid for:

Throughout the pandemic, I have kept in close touch with constituents who have encountered problems either accessing support or who have queries about entitlements to it, and I welcome the views of all the constituents in Meon Valley. I have also worked closely with schools, NHS bodies, the emergency services, care homes, businesses, third-sector organisations and a wide range of other bodies to ensure that any concerns or comments they have were passed on to Ministers. I will also keep in mind the points you make in my discussions with Ministers are we proceed.