Parliament's one-year review of the Coronavirus Act 2020: another example of Parliament's marginalisation in the Covid-19 pandemic

Daniella Lock, Pablo Grez, Fiona De Londras

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Abstract

In this article, we consider the one-year review (OYR) by Parliament of temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CVA). The OYR stands as a key concession on the part of the UK government to enable scrutiny of Covid-19 law making, after the CVA was rushed through Parliament at the beginning of the pandemic. The principal argument of this article is that despite appearances, this review was another example of Parliament being marginalised during the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, there were four obstacles to meaningful scrutiny in the OYR: inadequate parliamentary time scheduled for the review; the ‘all-or-nothing’ framing of the review; late and inaccurate government reporting prior to the OYR; and the failure to address key issues regarding the operation of the CVA, including major human rights concerns. In light of such obstruction to scrutiny, it is clear that the review represents a broken promise on the part of the current government to Parliament. The review is also part of a broader pattern of marginalising Parliament during the pandemic. In presenting this analysis, we argue that two changes could be made in the upcoming and penultimate review of the CVA in September 2021, in order to enable Parliament to engage in meaningful scrutiny in this review.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Early online date13 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. The Political Quarterly published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Political Quarterly Publishing Co (PQPC).

Keywords

  • Coronavirus Act 2020
  • Parliament
  • government accountability
  • legislative scrutiny
  • pandemic
  • parliamentary review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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