In my predecessor’s letter of 12 July 2021 he committed to providing the SLSC with an update on the sunset provisions in Sis made in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then the Government has provided a monthly update to the committee.
The committee has performed an important and valuable role in scrutinising secondary legislation throughout the pandemic. The Government wanted to be as helpful as possible in supporting this work and so provided information in the monthly updates which went beyond that which has been previously provided to scrutiny committees.
It is understandable that the committee would wish to closely scrutinise legislation imposing restrictions on civil liberties at a time of national crisis. However, all such restrictions are now being lifted. As part of the Government’s strategy for living with Coronavirus, the last domestic legal restrictions will be lifted. I am therefore of the view that it is no longer necessary for the Government to provide monthly updates.
23 February 2022
Thank you for your letter of 23 February in which you explained that there will be no further monthly updates on the sunset provisions in SIs made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as all domestic legal restrictions are now being lifted. We discussed your letter at our most recent meeting.
Our understanding is that some temporary measures, for example in relation to international travel remain in place, and that as recently as 14 February, an Order was made (SI 2022/124) to suspend until the end of March the prohibition of certain types of anti-competitive activity in relation to independent healthcare providers and the NHS in England. While we would not want to add unnecessarily to the workload of officials, we believe that further monthly updates would be helpful to the House and wider public while temporary measures remain in place that seek to address the impact of the pandemic. This will also provide a helpful overview of which measures have expired or have been revoked.
I would be grateful if we could receive the next update by 12 noon on Monday, 14 March to enable us to share it with the Committee at the meeting on 15 March, and further updates at the beginning of each month thereafter.
4 March 2022
Thank you for your reply to my letter setting out that the Government would not be providing any further monthly updates on the sunset provisions in statutory instruments made in response to the pandemic.
I have noted your request for the updates to continue but remain of the view that it is no longer necessary for the Government to provide them. As set out in my previous letter, these updates were provided to support the Committee in its valuable scrutiny work of legislation which imposed restrictions on civil liberties at a time of national crisis, and as such went far beyond what the Government normally provides to scrutiny committees. All such restrictions are now being lifted.
Furthermore, the Government has set out its planned legislative changes in the COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 document. This is publicly available on GOV.UK for those who wish to understand the temporary measures which remain in place.
14 March 2022