Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)

Press Release – Shadow Immigration Minister Criticises “Long-Term Timescale” of “Exorbitant” Coronavirus Bill Powers

Mar 24, 2020 | Press Releases

Shadow Immigration Minister, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, has criticised the “excessive” time -frame of Government emergency powers outlined yesterday under the Coronavirus Bill.

Highlighting concerns over the “hastily-drawn up” and “long-term” legislation, Ms. Ribeiro-Addy also pointed to “worrying implications” for disabled people and migrants.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Shadow Immigration Minister, said:

“I’m very sceptical about giving the Government these exorbitant powers for two years, especially given the large majority it currently enjoys. The Prime Minister has stated he intends to ‘turn the tide’ in twelve weeks, which makes it hard to justify such a long-term and excessive timescale for the powers he’s proposing.

“I understand that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. To contain the spread of Covid-19, we must mobilise resources, strengthen our public services, and maintain safety and order. It also requires unprecedented state economic intervention.

“But I’m deeply concerned about the Bill’s limited provisions for Government, not to mention some of its worrying implications. Its hasty passage through the Houses is compounded by the fact that many MPs and Peers (including me) have been forced into self-isolation.

“I welcome the Government’s decision to accept the amendment giving communities the final say over religious burials. But the fact that this provision made it into the Bill in the first place shows how quickly drawn-up legislation tends to side-line the interests of marginalised social groups (who tend to be under-represented and overlooked in Parliament anyway).

“We see this again with the Bill’s potentially devastating implications for disabled people and migrants. Far from taking the pragmatic option to suspend detention and deportations during a global pandemic, the Government has instead decided to extend the policing of migrants.

“Emergency powers can often be sticky, especially without oversight, so I’m also worried that measures to close borders and detain people could end up enduring beyond the crisis.

“Meanwhile, the Bill did nothing to assuage my concerns about protecting immigration detainees from the disease and ensuring migrants’ access to funds and treatment. Nor did it consider how migrants might be driven underground by an intensification of the Hostile Environment. This is a public health issue as well as a human tragedy.

“Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn also rightly highlighted the Bill’s worrying implications for disabled adults and children.  An emergency shouldn’t be an excuse to remove disabled people’s hard-won rights. How can these measures really be in the interests of public safety when they’re going to make disabled members of the public less safe?”

Ends 

  1. ‘Coronavirus: To protect most at risk we need a clear plan for social care, says Jeremy Corbyn’, The Mirror (24/03/2020) https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/coronavirus-protect-most-risk-need-21739415 

For further information about this press release, please contact Ollie Collard, Communications Officer, Office of the Shadow Immigration Officer, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP at oliver.collard@parliament.uk or on 07918110617.