NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has used the one-year anniversary of the first UK lockdown to call for fresh coronavirus legislation that “better protects” civil liberties.
On 20 March 2020 the Liberal Democrat was among opposition MPs who met prime minister Boris Johnson to discuss the need for an emergency bill in respond to the disease’s initial outbreak.
Carmichael is now backing Liberty’s “Protect Everyone” bill as an alternative to the bill going before parliament this week to renew the Coronavirus Act.
Twelve months ago, he said, no one could have envisaged restrictions enduring for over a year.
“When the Coronavirus Act was passed last spring we had no idea of the course the pandemic would take,” Carmichael said on Monday.
“Now that we know more, it is time to repeal and replace the Coronavirus Act so that civil liberties are better protected, even while we continue to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Reflecting on the events of the past year the MP said he was struck by the “strong desire for everyone to pull together regardless of party”.
“That is something that was gradually lost over the following months but it is worth reflecting on the value of cooperation during a time of crisis.
Many constituents had urgent problems during the early weeks of the pandemic and open communication with ministers and civil servants was enormously important.
“At the time I raised with the Prime Minister the issue of small businesses, the self-employed and community organisations as some of the most vulnerable to the financial impact of the pandemic.
“Those concerns were desperate at the time and while financial backing given by the government has been valuable for many, it is frustrating that even a year later, millions have continued to be left out of support.
“As we attempt to rebuild our economy it is vital that we give everyone the best possible opportunity to succeed.”
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