Speaker blocks Tory rebels from defeating government over coronavirus laws

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle posses for a photograph in the chamber of the House of Co

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle posses for a photograph in the chamber of the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster London. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has blocked a rebel amendment from backbench Tory MPs which could have defeated the government over coronavirus laws.

Around 50 MPs signed an amendment by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the influential Tory backbench 1922 committee, demanding a vote on new coronavirus restrictions that would curb the "liberties" of Britons.

Ringleaders claimed the true figure was closer to 100, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats were set to back the amendment.

But speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Hoyle told MPs that the government has shown a “total disregard” for parliament with its handling of Covid-19 regulations.

He added: “The way in which the government has exercised its power to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory.


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“All too often important statutory instruments have been published a matter of hours before they come into force and some explanations as to why important measures have come into effect before they can be laid before this house has been unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House.”

He said he would not select any amendments to the motion to renew the Covid-19 regulations to avoid “uncertainty” and possible legal challenges.

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He added: “When I became Speaker I made it clear that I would take decisions on matters relating to procedures guided by professional advice.

“I have concluded on the basis of advice that I received that any amendment to the motion before the House risks giving rise to uncertainty about the decision the House has taken.

“This then risks decisions that are rightly the responsivity of parliament ultimately being determined by the courts.”

He added: “Lack of clarity in such important matters risks undermining the rule of law. I have therefore decided not to select any of the amendments to the motion.

“As I hope my early comments show I have not taken this decision lightly. I am looking to the government to remedy a situation I regard as completely unsatisfactory.

“I am now looking to the government to rebuild the trust with this House and not treat it with the contempt that it has shown.”

One of the rebels, Steve Baker, said Sir Lindsay had made an “entirely reasonable” decision but continued to hope for a compromise from the government.

“I hope and expect to reach a good compromise with the government shortly so we can advance as one team,” Mr Baker said.

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