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Scottish Parliament votes to make Covid “emergency powers” permanent

Kit Knightly

Yesterday, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted to make some the emergency measures – initially instated to “combat the pandemic” – permanent features of Scottish law.

Originally passed in March 2020, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act established all sorts of powers never before claimed by the devolved parliament.

Now it is rebranded as the “Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill”, and codifies a number of those “emergency” powers into permanent law.

These powers include permanently conducting criminal trials over video-link, registering deaths remotely, and other practices wide open to corruption.

Others grant parliament (or health bodies) the power to “restrict or prohibit access in respect of the whole or a specified part of an
educational establishment or of relevant premises”
, as well as “make different provision for different purposes (for example, for different descriptions of people attending an educational establishment)”

For those who haven’t learned “bureaucrat” on Duolingo, that means ordering schools to close and/or exclude or segregate students of “different descriptions”. Unvaccinated ones, for example.

The justification for extending the powers is as weaselly as you’d expect, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the BBC:

…the passing of this bill maintains those [powers] that will ensure we are better prepared for future public health threats, pragmatic reforms that have enabled more efficient or convenient public services, and some temporary changes to mitigate the impact Covid has had on our justice system.

So, just like that, emergency powers allegedly put in place to fight this “pandemic” are suddenly reasonably public health practices preparing us for the next “pandemic”.

The bill passed into law by 66 votes to 52 at its first reading.

After the UK passed its nationwide Coronavirus Act in March 2020, one defence the emergency powers granted to parliament were “only temporary”.

This was always totally untrue. Well over a quarter of the clauses in the Coronavirus Act specifically had no expiration date, and will last forever. On top of that, many of the “temporary” clauses were extended too.

Now the Scottish MPs have joined with their bosses in Westminster. And the UK is far from alone.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has already extended the “state of emergency” on covid once, and is expected do so again before it expires at the end of next month.

South Africa has already extended its “state of disaster” twice.

Biden extended the USA’s “state of emergency” on Covid in February, in the long tradition of American “emergencies” that literally never end.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 has a clause in it requiring extension by parliamentary vote every 90 days…and it passes every time.

Welcome to “emergency powers”. This is what happens. Every time.