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Call for evidence

Responding to Covid-19 and the Coronavirus Act 2020

Updated terms of reference to include Public inquiries - Orginal terms of reference focusing on legislation are below

Public Inquiry

This part of the Committee’s inquiry will look at the range of options open to the Government with the aim of providing firm recommendations on the form and remit of a formal public inquiry into the handling of Covid-19.

Terms of reference:

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee invites written evidence addressing the following questions:

  • What form is the most appropriate for an inquiry into the UK response to the Coronavirus pandemic? Should it be a statutory inquiry and, if not, what form of non-statutory inquiry should be held? 
  • How should the balance between comprehensiveness and timeliness be managed? Can a single inquiry be both comprehensive and timely? 
  • Should the purpose of the inquiry be on accountability or more forward-looking, focussed on lesson learning and improving policy? 
  • How wide should the inquiry range? Should it include the devolved administrations?  
  • What experience and qualities should the Chair have? 
  • Should the Chair be supported by a panel? If so, what knowledge and experience must the panel include? 
  • How should the Terms of Reference be agreed? Should consultation be undertaken first and, if so, how should this be conducted? 
  • What role should Parliament play? How much input should it have and how far should it have an oversight role? 
  • What mechanisms are there to ensure that the recommendations of any inquiry are implemented?

The deadline for recieving written submissions is Monday 13th July 2020


Legislative response

The Coronavirus Act 2020 was emergency legislation passed by Parliament on 25 March, to provide the Government with the powers it wanted to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

Under section 98 of the Act 2020, every six months there is “parliamentary review” which meanS that the Government must, so far as is practicable, make arrangements for the following motion to be debated and voted on: “That the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 should not yet expire.”

PACAC is launching an inquiry to scrutinise the constitutional and public administration aspects of the Act, with the goal of supporting and informing that debate.

The Committee welcomes views on the Coronavirus Act 2020 and associated legislation (including the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984) but is particularly interested in the following questions:

1.What should be the criteria for maintaining the Coronavirus Act 2020 as a whole and any regulations made under it?

a.How and by whom should these criteria be measured and judged?

2.Is the framework for Parliamentary scrutiny under the Coronavirus Act 2020 appropriate?

3.Should the “lockdown regulations” have been included as part of the Coronavirus Act 2020?

4.Would the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 have been an appropriate Act to use to introduce Covid-19 legislation?

5.To what extent should the Government’s five tests for easing lockdown also inform whether to end the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020?

a.How should those five tests be evidenced?

b.What should be the triggers for re-introducing lockdown measures?

c.What data is available to make these decisions? Is that data sufficiently robust?

6.To what extent should there be alignment throughout the UK on the response to Covid-19, and ending lockdown restrictions?

a.To what extent is there scope for divergence in policy for devolved administrationsand local authorities, in particular in relation to easing lockdown restrictions and Covid-19 testing capacity?



This call for written evidence has now closed.

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