Legislation to pass without vote amid coronavirus crisis

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Legislation will pass through the Commons unopposed this week as MPs feel the pressure to tackle coronavirus.

Emergency legislation on the outbreak and the government's Budget will get "nodded through", rather than opposition MPs calling for a vote.

Sources said Labour was attempting to strike a balance between scrutinising government and facing up to the virus.

Jeremy Corbyn has written to the PM, saying both parties should work together on coronavirus legislation.

The outgoing Labour leader said he would ensure the opposition's concerns were taken on board as part of its drafting, rather than the party having to push for changes on the floor of the Commons.

MPs are expected to wrap up the Budget debate on Tuesday without calling for a division - where members would shuffle through the lobbies for their votes to be counted.

Emergency legislation dealing with the coronavirus outbreak is expected to come before the Commons on Thursday.

Health Minister Edward Argar thanked his colleagues on the opposition benches for their "constructive approach" to the outbreak.

"They are good and decent people," he said. "Their approach is a prime example of how we can work together during this crisis."

In other signs that Parliament is trying to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak, the clerk of the House of Commons has suggested changes that could be implemented.

These include:

  • allowing MPs to voice their support "for" or "against" rather than voting in the normally packed division lobbies
  • reducing the number of MPs allowed in the Commons chamber at any one time
  • limiting the number of written questions to ministers
  • postponing certain non-essential business
  • allowing an MP to ask a question, or present a bill on behalf of another
  • extending the use of video-conferencing in committees

At present it is understood there are no specific proposals in place for Wednesday's session of Prime Minister's Questions.

Karen Bradley, chair of the Procedure Committee, which looks at the way MPs conduct business in the Commons, said: "We are examining the appropriate and responsible steps to take to ensure that the core work of the House continues in a responsible manner.

"Implementation of any changes to the way the House functions will be a matter for the Speaker or the House, in consultation with the government and the House authorities."