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MPs to assess Coronavirus powers renewal procedures in new probe

9 December 2021

Today, MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have launched an inquiry that will examine the renewal and extension processes of the Coronavirus Act.

A sunset clause in the Act means that the special powers it grants to combat the pandemic will lapse permanently on 25 March. Up to now, they were renewed by a Parliamentary vote at 6-month intervals.

Chair's Comment

On launching the inquiry, Committee Chair William Wragg said, “If the Government decides to maintain the sweeping powers of the Coronavirus Act, it is vital that the rationale behind their extension is fully open to scrutiny and the data supporting it is not only satisfactory, but also readily and rapidly available in good time.”

“We are fortunate to have the lead time to properly scrutinise the necessity of the powers in combatting the pandemic, given the lessons learned from previous variants and waves – something we did not have at the outset of the pandemic when the Act was passed.”

“Our inquiry will look at these processes and examine how high the evidence bar for the renewal of powers should be set.”

Terms of reference

People with experience of delivering the legal, operational and scientific aspects of the Coronavirus Act 2020 or expertise in transparency wishing to contribute to the inquiry addressing any of the points below can do so here until 5pm on 10 January 2022.

  • The operational effectiveness of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and its interaction with other emergency legislation, including the Public Health Act 1984 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
  • The evidence and procedures underpinning the six-monthly and annual renewal processes for the Coronavirus Act 2020 since its entry into force in March 2020.
  • The transparency surrounding the use of data (including behavioural insights) in decision-making relating to the renewals of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
  • The circumstances and process under which Section 90 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 can and/or should be used to extend measures beyond their sunset clause.

The Committee is not at this time be looking at the appropriateness of the measures in the Act themselves or any other aspect of the Government’s pandemic response.

Further information

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