Parliament likely to close for early Easter recess after emergency coronavirus laws pass

Bonnie Christian
UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag

Parliament is likely to adjourn for an early Easter recess after the emergency coronavirus legislation to tackle the crisis has been approved.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has tabled a motion for the House of Commons to rise on Wednesday until April 21.

The Coronavirus Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law before the end of the day after MPs from all sides agreed to let it pass without formal votes.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday he was “certain” MPs will return after the Easter recess to review whether Parliament should reopen.

He said: “Once that’s happened (the passing of the Coronavirus Bill) then it may be a sensible thing to close Parliament down for the recess and then review that at the end of the recess after Easter.

“Most of us, I think, do want Parliament to continue. We live in a democracy, it’s essential there’s scrutiny of the steps that the Government is taking.

“But obviously Parliament has to lead by example, follow the guidelines wherever it can, and ensure that we protect the staff that work in Parliament as well.”

He added that he was unaware whether Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg will call for a fixed return date.

But he said: “I’m certain that Parliament will return after the Easter holidays.

“I think it’s really important, however deep and serious this crisis, is that Parliament in some form continues to operate because you as citizens want to ensure your MPs are holding the Government to account.”

Peers on Tuesday backed the emergency powers aimed at “buying time” for the NHS to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

After a sombre five-hour debate, the Lords gave an unopposed second reading to the 348-page Coronavirus Bill.

The legislation grants ministers, councils, police, health professionals and coroners wide-ranging powers that are due to last for up to two years.

The changes include reducing the number of doctors required to sign off on sectioning those with mental health issues from two to one, while police would be given authority to force those infected with Covid-19 to self-isolate.​

The Bill will undergo detailed line-by-line scrutiny in the Lords on Wednesday before it is expected to become law later this week.

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