Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out in the House of Commons ahead of a key vote this week on the coronavirus law brought into place in March. Mr Carmichael highlighted public frustration with inconsistent rules and the plight of many students in all parts of the UK who have faced confusing and harsh rules around their behaviour. Mr Carmichael also raised concerns about the centralised approach used by governments around the UK, leaving little scope for local authorities to determine rules that work for them.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“There is a palpable sense of frustration that we have reached this point, and it is going to require a different approach, because what is true of Government in Westminster is also true in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff. I think that the public is still prepared to do what is necessary, but they are, quite rightly, less likely to tolerate any inconsistencies in the measures put in place.
“We did not know what we were facing in March, but we do know an awful lot more now. Revisiting the provisions of the emergency legislation that we put through, I see so little of it being used and so little of it being justified.”
“It surely ought to have been foreseeable that, when we took students back on to campuses, we ran the risk of seeing spikes. It was surely foreseeable that there would be some sort of lockdown locally as a consequence, and it was surely foreseeable that for many young people there would be a greater need for mental health support in those circumstances. None of the measures has been put in place and I have tremendous sympathy for our students who have been left simply swinging in the wind.
“One of the biggest difficulties that we have had across the four nations, but especially in Scotland, has been the determination to centralise control. We have had different patterns of behaviour emerging in different parts of the country, but different patterns of behaviour surely demand different answers. The centralisation has got to stop.”