Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon under fire for ‘dangerous power grab’ proposals

NICOLA Sturgeon has defended the SNP Government’s plans to make some emergency Covid laws permanent after being accused of a “dangerous power grab”.

Last week, the Scottish Government published its Recovery and Reform Bill which will give ministers the power to introduce lockdowns and close schools and businesses, even without the need for parliamentary scrutiny.

But the First Minister has insisted the proposals will align Scotland with public health measures in place in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, raised concerns over the proposed legislation.

Speaking in Holyrood, he said: “The Coronavirus Bill they proposed last week is a dangerous power grab.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland ‘entering calmer phase’ of Covid pandemic

“Their legislation that they are putting forward says it will give the Government the power to close businesses and schools, to let prisoners out of jail early and force people back into lockdowns in their own home.

“That is a power grab from this SNP Government.”

Mr Ross added: “And what is more worrying than anything is they could do all of that without ever coming back into this chamber and this Parliament.

“These powers are extraordinary. They were introduced to be used in an emergency only. “Outside of the most sever crises, the Government shouldn’t have such sweeping, extensive powers to curb freedoms and control people’s lives.

“So First Minister, why does your government need to retain these emergency powers indefinitely?”

But the First Minister defended the proposed legislation.

She said: “The Covid Recovery and Reform Bill, indecently, will bring public health protection powers in Scotland into line with public health protection powers that have been in place in England, under a Conservative Government, for the last 10 years.

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon insists time still not right to remove masks from classrooms

“Douglas Ross calls these dangerous and perhaps that’s not a surprise coming from the leader of the Scottish Conservatives because one of the powers in this bill is to give continued protection to tenants.”

Ms Sturgeon pointed to comments made by the homelessness charity Crisis in relation to tenants’ rights, quoting Crisis as highlighting it gives people “more time and support to work through rent arears” adding that “we welcome plans to make them more permanent”.

She added: “Perhaps it’s not a surprise the leader of the Conservative party describes that as dangerous.”

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