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Prime Minister's Questions: 18 March 2020

18 March 2020


During PMQs today MPs questioned the Prime Minister about the effects of Coronavirus on the self-employed, NHS, vulnerable people and more.

Before Prime Minister's Questions the Speaker made a statement to the House.

He said:

"Order. I would like just to make a very short statement.

"Those watching our proceedings will have noticed that our attendance today is significantly below the normal numbers.

"I have discussed with the usual channels ways in which we can limit the number of people crowded together to ensure maximum safety.

"We are all doing our best to keep Parliament sitting and to follow Public Health England guidance."

Questions from the Leader of the Opposition

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn said:

"People are mourning the loss of loved ones. Many more will be suffering from the effects of Coronavirus, including those already losing work or losing their jobs and worried about whether they can keep a roof over their head".

He sent thanks to medical and public health staff and public servants, and cleaners. As well as those working "around the clock" making sure shops and warehouses are stocked with "essential food supplies everybody needs."

Jeremy Corbyn asked the Prime Minister:

  • If the Prime Minister will pledge to increase statutory sick pay to European levels
  • Will he give confidence to those in low-income jobs, are in insecure work, or are self-employed and whether he will extend a "very much enhanced statutory sick pay to all workers" as the "UK sick pay levels lag far behind those of European counter-parts"
  • if the Government's emergency legislation (the Coronavirus Bill) will include protection of private renters from eviction
  • to explain why the Government is not prioritising the testing of all health care staff
  • if there is a policy for health care staff to have pull protective equipment
  • if he will "step up now and not tomorrow" to give support to those who are vunerable

Questions from the Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader

The Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, asked about Coronavirus saying "this is an unprecendated emergency and it requires an unprecendated response." 

He says "yesterday the Chancellor announced a £330 billion financial package for business, today the UK Government needs to announce a financial package for people."

Mr Blackford asked the Prime Minister:

  • if he will commit to providing people with the security of a universal, basic income
  • if he will commit to meeting those MPs who support the proposal of an emergency income scheme to protect peoples incomes

Full list of topics and questioners

  • Conservative MP, Rob Butler (Aylesbury) asked if the Prime Minister will list his official engagements for Wednesday 18 March.
  • Conservative MP, Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw) asked if the Prime Minister would update the House on the progress of Bassetlaw Hospital
  • Conservative MP, Damian Hinds (East Hampshire) asked if the Prime Minister would join him commending schools, teachers and leaders supporting families during the current crisis
  • Labour MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) asked "where was the forward planning for PPE for our NHS and care staff? Where is the testing for medics? Why are we waiting so long for mass testing and why are social distancing measures merely just suggestions?" and said we "must scale up the response."
  • Conservative MP, Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) asked if the Prime Minister will update the House on "his efforts to bring together a coalition of manufacturers to supply with the NHS with ventilators and other essential medical equipment it needs"
  • Labour MP, Chris Bryant (Rhondda) asked the Prime Minister if he will visit the Rhondda during the pandemic
  • Conservative MP, Felicity Buchan (Kensington) asked if the Prime Minister will assure her that "his Government will do absolutely everything to help the economy"
  • Labour MP, Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) asked if the Prime Minister will announce "a guarantee of measures that will fully compensate all self-employed workers in this crisis"
  • Conservative MP, Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) asked if the Prime Minister can confirm what the Government is doing to ensure that all retailers and pharmacists are going to prioritise over 70s
  • Independent MP, Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) asked if the Prime Minister can advise the House "what resources are being made for drug security, development and clinical trials in the UK? What efforts are being made by him for the UK to work in concer internationally? And does he agree with me that the prize on this occasion must be the victory and not patents or profits?"
  • Conservative MP, Andy Carter (Warrington South) asked if the Government will do all it can "to save lives, protect frontline NHS staff and keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe"
  • Alliance MP, Stephen Farry (North Down) asked the Prime Minister to seek at least a  one-year extension to the Brexit implementation process
  • Conservative MP, Antony Higginbotham (Burnley) asked if the Prime Minister will commit to doing "whatever it takes" to support SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) so that "once we get through this challenge, our high streets can buzz once again"
  • Labour MP, Kevan Jones (North Durham) asked "what assurance can the Prime Minister give, not only that they [the NHS] get the equipment they require but that it's actually effective once they get it?"
  • Conservative MP, Miss Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales) asked if the Prime Minister agrees that "its vital that we do whatever we can to get through this [Covid-19] as a country"
  • Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) asked if the Prime Minister if he will ask the courts to stop Section 21 Evictions 
  • Conservative MP, Gareth Bacon (Orpington) asked if the Prime Minister will confirm that "local authorities [..] will be given clear guidance in respect to safeguarding and DBS checks on volunteers" during the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Labour MP, Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) asked the Prime Minister "to show his solidarity for those households headed up by a single bread-winner"
  • Conservative MP, Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) asked "what age and co-mobility criteria are being drafted that will govern access to intensive care and to ventilators"
  • Labour MP, Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) asked about "temporary universal basic income to support workers"
  • Conservative MP, Theresa May (Maidenhead) asked if the Prime Minister agrees with the scientific analysis of a vaccine for Covid-19.

Catch up on the full PMQs

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Image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor