'Zero justification' for rushed circuit breaker as Holyrood demands involvement

MSPs and opposition parties are demanding Nicola Sturgeon involves the Scottish Parliament in decision making around a potential ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 4:52 pm
Signage at an anti-lockdown protest. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Signage at an anti-lockdown protest. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

It comes after pressure from opposition MSPs last week for the Scottish Government to allow votes on future coronavirus regulations amid concerns around democracy and scrutiny.

A potential two or three-week-long ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown is being considered by the Scottish Government as a possible way to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland as cases continue to rise.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the First Minister to not “bounce” Holyrood into supporting the measures without adequate scientific justification and parliamentary scrutiny.

He said: “The Scottish Parliament must not be bounced into supporting a circuit breaker lockdown without ministers explaining what it will achieve, how long it will last and why it’s justified.

“This idea has been floated on and off since the proposals were leaked to the press a fortnight ago. There is therefore absolutely zero justification for rushed implementation. The government must bring the Parliament with them.

“Hope of elimination of the virus receded, there have been serious errors in student guidance and the rate of the virus spread is continuing to rise at a concerning rate despite local measures. Scrutiny is needed now more than ever.”

Former justice spokesperson for Scottish Labour, James Kelly, called on the Scottish Government to announce any new restrictions in Holyrood rather than in a press conference.

Mr Kelly said: "If there are to be new restrictions announced tomorrow, this should take place in Parliament, not via press conference. There also needs to be time set aside for parliamentary scrutiny of any new regulations.”

The potential for nationwide restrictions was criticised by Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, who said it would be “hard to see why” restrictions would be required across Scotland when prevalence levels are so different.

He said: “There is a huge range in the number of new cases across Scotland - Perth & Kinross amongst the lowest. [It’s] hard to see why new restrictions should be brought in across the whole country as against a more targeted approach.”

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make an announcement on potential new restrictions this week, having indicated she will give the public “as much notice as possible” of new rules.

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