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Coronavirus Bill

Volume 802: debated on Wednesday 25 March 2020

Third Reading

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Coronavirus Bill, have consented to place their interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


Moved by

My Lords, I offer profound thanks to all concerned. I thank the Bill team, who have put together a balanced, thoughtful Bill in an amazingly fast turnaround. I thank my own team at the Department of Health for their enormous support. I thank the team in the Leader’s office and Whips Office who have worked to manage a remarkable programme in order to pass the Bill. I thank those in other parties who have worked in a collaborative, positive and supportive way during the whole process. I thank those who work in Parliament and in the House of Lords who are here today at considerable risk to themselves; they have displayed amazing commitment to this remarkable organisation by being here. I beg to move.

My Lords, on behalf of these Benches, I thank the Minister for the way he has conducted the Bill. It has been a perfect exercise in consultation and work across the House. I thank not just the parties but other noble Lords who have taken part in this Bill for co-operating and working together in a way that has allowed us to scrutinise it as best we possibly could. I think we raised every issue that we could during its passage. It is important to have those things on the record because, as we move forward, we will need to know that we have asked those questions, and the Government will need to address them.

I thank my team, particularly my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer, who got drawn into this about a week ago, and my noble friend Lady Wheeler. I also thank the people in the office, who of course do all the work. In our case, that is Rhian Copple, who has done a brilliant job in keeping us informed and on the go.

I thank all my noble friends and noble Lords who are not here, but who gave us their views and have been patient. I know that they would have wanted to be here.

My Lords, from these Benches I too thank the Minister, the Bill team and all the civil servants who have worked with them for the collaborative and inclusive way that they have conducted the Bill through this House. I thank Members on other Benches for their immense understanding and patience as at times we have had to rattle through some very difficult issues that normally, in other circumstances, we would not have dealt with in that way.

I thank the staff of the House who, at some considerable personal potential danger, have enabled us to be here to do what, as I was saying the other day, is an extremely important thing for us to have done and to continue to do: to scrutinise the legislation that will continue to come before us as the situation unfolds and, in so doing, to be part of the national programme of learning and understanding this virus and the new realities in which we are all going to have to live. This is not just an exercise in parliamentary posturing but an important part of adapting to a world that will inevitably be very different.

I think the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, about the review of the Bill will turn out to be one of the most practically important parts of the discussions that we have had these last few days. I hope the Minister will bear that in mind and that he and his team will continue to stay in contact with noble Lords who have spoken on the Bill, as well as our colleagues who cannot be here but have taken part remotely, and the staff in our whips’ offices, because the people who raised all the queries with us that we have then raised with him are going to take a continuing interest in the Bill and they are going to want to be part of an ongoing dialogue as the situation unfolds. In the meantime, I thank the Minister very much.

My Lords, from these Benches I echo everything that has just been said. Noble Lords and noble Baronesses who come in to Prayers will know that one of the prayers said by the duty bishop concerns the purpose for which this House is here—namely, the commonwealth, the common well-being, of our nation—and, in some senses, the way in which its business is to be conducted. I just observe that the debate on the Bill in which we have shared over these last two days has been an exemplary response to that, in a way; an example of how it can be done in good ways, with seriousness but in collaboration and with a real desire for the well-being of those for whom we and people in the other place are here. I rather hope that something of that spirit will thread through some of our other business as well when we return in due course.

Bill passed.

Sitting suspended.