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Use of emergency powers during the pandemic – Lords to question experts

Tuesday 17 November 2020

The House of Lords Constitution Committee will tomorrow hear evidence from two panels of witnesses on the use and scrutiny of emergency powers during the pandemic, as part of its ongoing inquiry into the constitutional implications of Covid-19.  

The session will take place virtually on Wednesday 18 November at 09.15am and can be followed on Parliament TV

The first panel of witnesses will be: 

  • Tom Hickman QC (Blackstone Chambers) 
  • Kirsty Brimelow QC (Doughty Street Chambers)  
  • Lord Sandhurst QC (Guy Mansfield QC) 

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include: 

  • What issues have been caused by the use of emergency powers during the pandemic?
  • What new criminal offences have been introduced as part of the Government’s response to the pandemic? Are they proportionate, justified and appropriate?
  • What have been the consequences of legal divergence across the United Kingdom in responding to the pandemic? 
  • To the extent that the Government’s response to the pandemic lacks a sound legal basis, what is the best route forward? 

The second panel of witnesses will be: 

  • Dr Joelle Grogan (Middlesex University) 
  • Dr Joe Tomlinson (Research Director, Public Law Project)  
  • Professor Alison Young (Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge) 

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include: 

  • What should Parliament’s scrutiny of emergency powers look like at this stage of the pandemic? 
  • To what extent have the legal requirements imposed in response to the pandemic been clear and accessible to members of the public and those enforcing the new rules? 
  • What principles should guide the Government in seeking to secure continued compliance with restrictions? 
  • What lessons can be learned from the Government’s preparation, and Parliament’s scrutiny of the measures introduced in response to the pandemic? 

Last week the Committee held its first evidence session on the emergency powers strand of the inquiry with legal and political experts, which can be watched back on Parliament TV

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