York’s Conservative MP demands the Government give MPs a proper say on Covid restrictions

Julian Sturdy in the Commons. Photograph: Screengrab
25 Sep 2020 @ 8.16 pm
| Politics

Conservative Julian Sturdy is demanding that he and his fellow MPs have a say on the restrictions brought in by the government in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Sturdy, who represents York Outer, is backing an amendment instructing ministers to give Parliament greater oversight of the Covid laws.

Next week the government will seek to extend their powers to bring in public health restrictions for a further six months.

The amendment, tabled by senior backbencher Sir Graham Brady, has the backing of 40 of his Conservative colleagues.

Sir Graham is concerned that these powers have been used with little recourse to Parliament and effectively allow the Government to rule by ‘executive fiat’. 

And Mr Sturdy agrees. “In 2016 the British people voted to leave the EU because they wanted their laws to be made by the UK Parliament,” he said.

“We have not successfully achieved this only to allow the Government to legislate at will.”

Carte blanche powers

It would send a message to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Charlotte Graham

Mr Sturdy added: “The regulations that the Government have brought in to tackle Covid have impacted all parts of daily life and had profound effects on the economy and our long-term health and wellbeing.

“Whilst I have supported many of these measures, I strongly believe that they can only be introduced with the explicit consent of elected representatives in Parliament.

“We have a situation at the moment where Parliament is granting the Government carte blanche powers, only to be bypassed in deciding how they are exercised. This cannot be allowed to continue for the next six months.

“Along with many colleagues across the house, I am calling on the Government to come back to Parliament every two months at the most for the renewal of these powers and to give Parliament a vote before any additional restrictions are introduced.

“This will serve to increase the transparency of decision making and give new regulations greater legitimacy in the eyes of the public.”

He hopes that the amendment will receive the backing of opposition parties in the Commons – and there are signs that the government will move to accept the amendment in order to avoid a defeat when the motion is debated on Wednesday.