Coronavirus / Fundamental rights
Liberty’s rights-respecting COVID Bill tabled in Parliament
Posted on 24 Mar 2021
- Dawn Butler MP tables “Coronavirus (2) Bill” based on Liberty’s draft law
- MPs to vote on repealing Coronavirus Act tomorrow
- Rights-respecting draft Bill gets cross-party support
Liberty’s Protect Everyone Bill has been tabled in Parliament in a historic intervention that means the rights-respecting alternative to the Government’s Coronavirus Act will enter the Parliamentary record.
Dawn Butler MP will speak in the House of Commons today, 24 March, after tabling the Coronavirus (2) Bill, based on the Protect Everyone Bill, which Liberty has drafted in collaboration with dozens of charities.
MPs from across the House of Commons have supported Liberty’s campaign for a pandemic response based on support rather than punishment. The support from Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, with seven co-sponsors from three parties, means MPs can vote in support of a rights-respecting alternative to the Government’s coronavirus strategy.
A year ago, in the face of the pandemic and the significant risk to life MPs passed the Coronavirus Act on 25 March 2020. The legislation was – and continues to be – an unprecedented assault on civil liberties. The Act must be voted on every six months to remain law. MPs will debate and vote on the Act tomorrow, 25 March.
In partnership with dozens of charities and grassroots campaign groups, Liberty drafted its own alternative legislation, the Protect Everyone Bill, designed to replace the Coronavirus Act.
The Protect Everyone Bill rejects the draconian approach that Government adopted at the outset of the pandemic, and instead prioritises support and public health, so everyone is protected for the remainder of the pandemic.
The legislation covers 10 different areas, including policing, protections for protest rights, social care, housing, immigration and employment. The Bill, which runs to more than 80 pages, has been drafted and scrutinised by expert barristers.
The Government’s pandemic response is under scrutiny after research commissioned by Liberty found 83 per cent of people are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on people made vulnerable and only a third (34 per cent) think the Government has treated everyone equally and fairly during the pandemic.
Liberty’s Interim Director Gracie Bradley said: “We reject the politics of division and criminalisation and call for a new approach.
“Those in power have failed to understand that to get through coronavirus, we need to pull together and create strategies that protect everyone. A year into this crisis, we’re tired of waiting for alternatives, so we’ve come up with one ourselves.
“We’ve shown that it’s possible to create a rights-respecting pandemic response, and a strategy that protects everyone. If Ministers renew the Coronavirus Act this week, they will do so knowing more of the most marginalised people will be left behind, and everyone’s freedoms will be on the line – and that there was a better alternative.
“The pandemic has shown how much we rely on each other – yet politicians in charge responded with a strategy that created distrust and favoured punishing people instead of providing support.
“We demand a better way forward – one that provides support for everyone and upholds our rights and freedoms.”
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