For Your Safety...as Freedom Withers and Dies

March 18, 2020

 

Emergency laws will give powers to close airports and detain and quarantine people.

The legislation will cover areas such as the NHS, social care, schools, police, Border Force, local councils, funerals and courts. The UK's ports and airports could be closed and police given powers to detain people suspected of having coronavirus under emergency legislation. In new laws to be introduced to the House of Commons this week, the government is seeking widespread powers to tackle the public health crisis caused by COVID-19 - the prevalent strain of coronavirus. Sky News' Greg Heffer reports...

 

The legislation - which follows significant economic measures introduced by Chancellor RIshi Sunak - will be time-limited for two years and will cover areas such as the NHS, social care, schools, police, Border Force, local councils, funerals and courts. As well as enhancing powers for government, the legislation - named the Coronavirus Bill - will also scrap existing regulations in some areas should public services suffer mass staff shortages.

 

Not all the measures will come into force immediately, while they can be "switched off" if they are no longer necessary. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new powers "will only be used when it is absolutely necessary and must be timed to maximise their effectiveness. Crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives," he added.

 

In order to ensure the UK's border security, Home Secretary Priti Patel will be given the power to request ports and airports temporarily close and suspend operations if there is a shortage of Border Force staff. Police and immigration officers will also be given the power to detain a person and quarantine them if they are, or might be, infectious.

 

In other measures, the legislation will allow:

  • Recently-retired doctors or medical students to be registered as regulated healthcare professionals, in order to boost the number of NHS staff;

  • Social workers who have recently left the profession to be temporarily added to registers;

  • Workers to be able to take "emergency volunteer leave" for up to four weeks, with a compensation fund to be established to cover their loss of earnings and expenses;

  • Just one doctor's opinion, rather than the current two, to be used to detain and treat patients for a mental health disorder;

  • Schools and children's nurseries to be forced to close - or forced to stay open, as well as the relaxation of some requirements such as maximum class sizes;

  • The greater use of video and audio link in courts;

  • The temporary appointment of Judicial Commissioners, who authorise warrants under anti-terror laws, should there be a shortage;

  • The government to have the power to restrict or ban any events or gatherings;

  • The removal of some bureaucracy surrounding funerals and cremations, including expanding the list of people who can register a death to include funeral directors acting on behalf of the family;

  • Local councils to directly take over the management of deaths, if it becomes likely the number of people who might die from coronavirus is likely to significantly exceed the capacity locally to manage the deceased;

  • The food industry to be forced to provide information about food supplies.

 

The bill will also allow the government to bring in its planned action to temporarily suspend the rule that means statutory sick pay is not paid for the first three days of work missed, in a measure that will be backdated to 13 March.

It will also confirm the postponement of local and mayoral election to 2021.

 

In separate government action, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the relaxation of planning rules to allow all pubs, restaurants and cafes to be able to offer takeaway and delivery services if they wish.

The bill will also allow the government to bring in its planned action to temporarily suspend the rule that means statutory sick pay is not paid for the first three days of work missed, in a measure that will be backdated to 13 March.

It will also confirm the postponement of local and mayoral election to 2021.

 

© Greg Heffer/Sky News

Image - Sky news

 

KJM Today Opinion

 

Whilst some of the measures announced seem, on the face of it, to make sense, there are aspects to the passage of this bill and its contents that are disturbing, and with thought, deeply so. The United Kingdom has a long history of standing on, by and actively seeking to enhance liberty and freedom. Of individual people, of businesses large and small, of everybody, to go about their daily lives without undue interference from the state. 

 

Indeed, it is this long-standing commitment that underpins the UK's exit from the European Union (the EU), which, despite all the positive aspects to it, all the good things that it has done, has degenerated into an undemocratic, overbearing and oppressive organisation that tells people what to do rather than asking them.

 

This bill is going through the House of Commons without opposition. Of itself, that again seems quite reasonable. The Labour Party do not want to be perceived as stopping or obstructing anything that is for the greater good of society. But Labour has never been the party of freedom. Its very ethos is founded on one size fitting all - like the EU (for more on this, read Comments of a Common Man Edition 3 - see below). 

 

That is one reason why it had never been in government for longer than one full five-year term - until the Blair/Brown led party was in power for thirteen years. In that time, more CCTV cameras than ever before sprung up everywhere, making the UK the most spied-upon nation on earth and over 3,500 new laws were introduced, most using terrorism and child protection as their reasons...'for the greater good'...'for your safety'...and so on. 

 

That is the reasoning behind this latest bill, and Labour, in its present incarnation, will look to a time when it might come to power; when at least some of what it wants will already be in place, even though the bill is 'supposed' to last for two years - will it? Will it be 'switched off' as suggested?

 

We doubt it. We believe that, as there have been numerous outbreaks of disease spreading around the world before, there will be again once Covid-19 has subsided. For that reason, why should these new laws be set aside? They will not be. And once law becomes so, it goes on the statute book and there it stays - until it is repealed.

 

How many of Labour's laws have been repealed, removed from the statute book and thus no longer being a law under which we, the people, can be criminalised? Don't take our word for it; you can find out for yourselves and the answer will - or should - worry you.

 

The idea that people can be arbitrarily detained on the basis that they 'might' have Covid-19 flies in the face of justice and everything this country is supposed to stand for. As Kevan James points out in his book, Comments of a Common Man, the state must act on fact - not suspicion.

 

The UK already has - and passed on the quiet - some of the most intrusive laws in the world. Many of them are justified on the basis of security. But Covid-19 is not a security issue - it is a health issue. Yet health has already been used to restrict and forbid a number of things.

And the cause of health will not be best served by shutting down the freedom of the people along with everything else.

 

 

Kevan James book Comments of a Common Man Edition 3 is available from Amazon, £9.99

 

 

 

 

 
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