Wednesday 18th March 2020
Dear Ed Davey,
I am writing to you to raise concerns about the government’s handling of the ongoing public health crisis associated with the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic and, more specifically, in relation to the emergency government legislation that will up for discussion in the House of Commons on Thursday.
First and foremost, it is clear that the Conservative government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic is at odds with the approach of other major European states and the advice of the World Health Organisation. On the one hand, the government has not taken the necessary steps to contain the spread of Coronavirus, test citizens or protect the most vulnerable from infection. On the other, reports indicate that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, plans to introduce unnecessarily coercive legislation.
I am asking you, as the Member of Parliament for Kingston & Surbiton, to oppose government proposals to:
- Give police powers to arrest those not self-isolating, such as homeless people;
- Reduce statutory duty on local Councils’ care for the elderly, some of whom are most at risk of becoming infected with Covid-19;
- Relax laws around death certification.
That said, this pandemic clearly constitutes a national emergency and drastic state intervention is indeed required. If the government is serious about wanting to affect social behaviour and work patterns it would introduce emergency legislation that would positively support people needing to self-isolate and so reduce the spread of the disease.
I ask that you push for the following demands to be introduced into legislation:
In addition to the measures announced, extend statutory sick pay to those in insecure or self-employed work during self-isolation and illness;
- Increase statutory sick pay in line with other European countries with similar economies;
- Introduce rent deferrals alongside the planned mortgage holidays, so that landlords cannot evict tenants and mortgage companies cannot take action against homeowners, with an assurance that repayment does not cause hardship;
- Wholly curtail sanctions for missed Universal Credit interviews in all cases, and introduce a substantial reduction in the five-week wait for payments;
- Suspend council tax, water rates, gas and electric bills for those that require it;
- Requisition private hospitals.
Overarchingly, it should be stressed that the government must follow global action by introducing systematic testing and monitoring of Coronavirus. This is the only guaranteed way to limit the number of deaths expected to be caused by Coronavirus.
Thank you for your time, I await the debates in the House of Commons on Thursday in anticipation.
Chair for Kingston & Surbiton Labour