Lib Dems: ‘Scottish Government should give up emergency Covid powers’

Ministers have proposed making certain powers permanent.

Lib Dems: ‘Scottish Government should give up emergency Covid powers’ iStock

The Scottish Government should give up its emergency coronavirus powers after they expire, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Ministers have proposed making certain powers permanent: including the ability to order schools to close; impose lockdowns and operate virtual courts.

A consultation on whether these should be extended beyond March 2022 closes on Tuesday.

Powers allowing the Government to release prisoners early would also be extended under the proposals.

The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has argued that some of the changes have had a “demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland”.

Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “When the pandemic hit, our country took a deep breath and granted deep and wide-ranging powers to the Government to get us through.

“Many powers were never meant to be forever and it would be an affront to democracy for the SNP to try to keep them on a permanent basis.

“The pandemic required new ways of working for all of us, some of which were overdue and for the better. If there are sensible reforms to be made, then these should go through the proper legislative process.

“What this must not be is a colossal SNP power grab, lining their pockets with powers that nobody would have countenanced handing over pre-pandemic.”

In addition to being able to impose future lockdowns and restrict gatherings, ministers would also be able to order school closures “during the remainder of the pandemic” or for any future outbreak of an infectious disease, so long as they believe it is “necessary and proportionate”, and the chief medical officer has been consulted.