Covid: Government has shown a 'total disregard' for parliament, says Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle

The Speaker of the House of Commons told MPs the Government has shown a “total disregard” for parliament over its handling of coronavirus regulations. Credit: PA

The Speaker of the House of Commons told MPs the Government has shown a “total disregard” for parliament over its handling of coronavirus regulations.

Boris Johnson was facing a rebellion on Wednesday from more than 50 Conservative backbench MPs who are angry that the Government has imposed rules without Parliament’s scrutiny.

They were set to back an amendment from Sir Graham Brady, the influential chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, which would have handed Mr Johnson a defeat with opposition support.

But Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he had rejected any amendments to a motion to extend emergency coronavirus powers to avoid “undermining the rule of law”.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Sir Lindsay said: “The way in which the Government has exercised its power to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory.

“All too often important statutory instruments have been published a matter of hours before they come into force and some explanations as to why important measures have come into effect before they can be laid before this house has been unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House.”

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clashed over the government's handling of coronavirus. Credit: PA

Sir Lindsay added that the 90 minutes set aside to debate a “narrow, binary choice” of whether to extend the Coronavirus Act 2020 was not enough for the House.

“I have therefore decided not to select any of the amendments to the motion,” he said.

“As I hope my earlier comments show, I have not taken this decision lightly, and I am looking to the Government to remedy a situation I regard as completely unsatisfactory.”

Sir Lindsay has previously criticised the Government earlier this month for failing to make a statement on new coronavirus restrictions.

On September 9, Sir Lindsay criticised Matt Hancock for not telling the Commons about new rules banning social gatherings of more than six people.

The speaker said he had written to Mr Hancock and criticised his "total disregard" for the Commons, adding: "I expect the Secretary of State to apologise to members and make sure that this chamber knows first of when he was fully aware of what was going to be said later.

"And let me say, if this minister wants to run this chamber ragged I can assure you now I'm sure a UQ [urgent question] every day might just begin to run him ragged."

The rule of six policy change was released via the media, hours after Mr Hancock appeared before MPs without providing the same details.