TOMORROW your MP will have the opportunity to repeal the Coronavirus Act. If we don’t pressure our MPs to get rid of this oppressive legislation now, it will remain on the statute books for a further year and a half. We must make our voice heard.
So email your MP now.
MPs need to know their constituents care about this Government power grab. If you haven’t emailed your MP yet, you can use the quick and easy template provided by Big Brother Watch here and follow the instructions, or copy or write your own version based on the text below. You can find your MP’s email address here.
Subject: Repeal the Coronavirus Act
I am writing to express my concern about the Coronavirus Act renewal motion. A year after this emergency Act was passed, I am urging you to repeal the Coronavirus Act on 25th March, to protect rights and justice in the UK.
The Coronavirus Act represents the biggest expansion of executive power in a generation. Some of the powers in the Act are extreme, unexplained and simply unjustified – but, nodded through on the premise of urgency, the Act suffered from a lack of parliamentary scrutiny.
It is vital that this motion to review the Act is not a rubber-stamping exercise, but a genuine review and repeal of the Act’s unnecessary and dangerous powers. The most dangerous and excessive of these powers are Schedules 21 and 22 of the Act.
Schedule 21 contains some of the most extreme detention powers in modern British legal history. It gives unprecedented, almost arbitrary, powers to the police, immigration officers and public health officials to detain ‘potentially infectious’ members of the public, including children, potentially indefinitely and in unspecified locations. In a pandemic, that could mean anyone.
Schedule 21 detention powers have been used for 252 prosecutions – every single one of which was found unlawful by the CPS on review.
This 100 per cent unlawful prosecution rate, which has continued month after month over the past year, is unprecedented and unacceptable. Big Brother Watch has found cases of innocent and healthy individuals not only being arrested and fined, but even held in police cells unlawfully under these draconian powers.
Renewing Schedule 21 in the Coronavirus Act would be dangerous and indefensible. Significant powers in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 already allow for the forced detention and testing of potentially infectious people with the authorisation of a magistrate, which is a vital safeguard.
Furthermore, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) Regulations 2020 require individuals who test positive to self-isolate and give police the power to forcibly return an individual to an isolation place.
Schedule 22 gives the Secretary of State extraordinary powers to prohibit gatherings, meaning protests, vigils and political assemblies could be banned at ministerial discretion.
Schedule 22 has never been activated in England and so is plainly unnecessary, but neither is it proportionate in a democracy. All the time it sits on the statute books, it poses a threat to the right to free expression, freedom of assembly and democracy.
Please vote to repeal these dangerous powers on 25th March.