SNP govt accused of ‘power grab’ over plans to make covid powers permanent


The Scottish Government has published a bill that would make some of its coronavirus emergency powers permanent.

The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill (Scotland) would give ministers the powers to respond to public health emergencies in a similar way to legislation passed in response to Covid-19.

This includes powers to impose lockdown restrictions, allow court hearings to be held remotely, and restrict access to schools.

Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie also called the bill a “power grab”.

She said: “These emergency powers were a necessary response to an unprecedented crisis, not a free pass for ministers to rack up new powers.

A consultation was held last year and now the MSPs will analyze and debate the bill.

The legislation also introduces changes to eviction procedures in the private rented sector.

It means that certain court cases will no longer automatically have to grant an eviction.

John Swinney said: “Scottish ministers have already removed many of the temporary measures that supported our response to the pandemic, which are no longer necessary.

“However, we believe that those pragmatic reforms that have brought demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland must continue.

“While it has been incredibly disruptive, the urgency of the pandemic has driven the pace of digital adoption and, in some cases, more efficient ways of working and better serving the public.

“I am grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation, which was carefully considered in the drafting of this Bill, to bring these beneficial reforms into Scotland’s public services, along with the temporary extension of some judicial measures to help the courts with the clean-up of backlogs stemming from the pandemic.

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“Our priorities are to continue to lead Scotland safely through and out of the covid pandemic, to tackle inequalities made worse by covid, move towards a well-being economy and accelerate people-centred and inclusive public services, and this project of The law supports those goals.”

In response to the publication of the bill, Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “While there may be measures in this bill that are sensible long-term reforms, too many amount to an unwarranted and unacceptable power grab by the government. SNP.

“The powers it would give the Scottish Government permanently were only meant to be temporary for the duration of the pandemic.

“The most worrying of the proposals is the power to close schools and release prisoners early, and the proposed bill allows them to do this without prior parliamentary approval.

“This bill is an alarming and unnecessary overreach by the SNP, which is why Scottish Conservatives will oppose measures that put too much power in the hands of ministers.”

Baillie criticized: “This bill would give ministers permanent powers to close schools and confine people to their homes in the blink of an eye.

“There is simply no excuse for bypassing Parliament, when Holyrood has shown time and time again that it can respond with the urgency required.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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