Diary - unprecedented emergency legislation is debated

Lock-down! I never thought I'd hear that word in peacetime Britain, but the PM felt he had no choice, so this evening made his stark announcement to a stunned nation. His speech is on my website. Clearly, the main message is stay at home unless it is strictly necessary for you not to do so. I would like to pay tribute to all those who are battling this horrid disease in the NHS and other health-related services. I have been contacted by several people saying they do not have the protective equipment and I have passed this straight on to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. For those who need this equipment and do not have it, Mr Hancock has set up a telephone helpline, whose number is: 0191 2836 543. I hope this helps. Even during the day, London felt and looked empty. The city has an extraordinary feel to it as people go about their business in a totally new environment. In the Chamber, Priti Patel took Home Office Questions, where I made the point that people must not swarm to the coast, as they did over the weekend, which naturally increases the risk of spreading this disease. I know many local residents were angry at this irresponsible invasion. It was repeated around the country, which is probably why the PM was finally persuaded to lock-down the country. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, was on next, explaining a few changes to the Order Paper. I raised an issue here that many businesses are asking me. What happens when this is all over and businesses have to make some employees redundant as they struggle to get back on their feet. Who pays the redundancy money when many businesses will be not be in a position to do so. Next came the Coronavirus Bill, which is emergency legislation, giving unprecedented powers to Government and organisations like the police to tackle this scourge. Our main concern that it was to last for two years was finally allayed when the Government agreed that it should be reviewed every six months. This is sensible as we do not know where we will be in that time. Finally, I was slipped at about 1700 as there were no votes and the Whips were keen to keep the Chamber as empty as possible. Back to my temporary accommodation and out for a long run as night came in.