Covid legislation

SNP accused of ‘power grab’ over shutdown rules

Jackie Baillie
Jackie Baillie: ‘shameless power grab’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish government ministers are proposing legislation that will allow them to order shut downs and instruct people to stay at home without parliament’s approval.

Opposition MSPs accused the SNP government of a “power grab” that will make permanent the emergency powers given to Ministers in response to the Covid pandemic. 

The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill will allow ministers to impose lockdown restrictions, allow court hearings to take place remotely and close schools.

Scottish Labour said the government was guilty of “gross overreach”, insisting there is no justification for bypassing Parliament.

Health and Covid Recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “This is a shameless power grab from the SNP. 

“These emergency powers were a necessary response to an unprecedented crisis – not a free pass for ministers to hoard new powers.”

Scottish Conservative Covid spokesman, Murdo Fraser, said it amounted to “an unwarranted and unacceptable power grab by the SNP”.

He added: “The powers it would hand the Scottish Government permanently were only ever meant to be temporary for the duration of the pandemic.”

Deputy First Minister and Covid recovery minister John Swinney said many temporary measures in place to respond to the pandemic had already been lifted, and those in the Bill were “pragmatic reforms” which had “delivered demonstrable benefit”.

He added: “Whilst 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 service to the public.



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