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Is Parliament ready for a bird flu pandemic?

Is Parliament ready for a bird flu pandemic?

National has today written to the Prime Minister and constitutional advisers asking how Parliament will operate in the event of a bird flu pandemic.

“In a pandemic, Parliament may be unable to meet. Many MPs would be ill with flu and the rest may face regional travel bans,” says Mr Ryall.

“Yet emergency legislation will almost certainly be required.”

Mr Ryall has written to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary Diane Morcom and Clerk of the House David McGee QC.

“This matter should be dealt with urgently. We are seeking their advice on how Parliament can deal with this.

“The lesson of previous disasters is that urgent legislation will be needed. Some of the Acts upon which Governments have previously relied have been repealed, such as the Economic Stabilisation Act and the Public Order Conservation Act.

“The Civil Defence Emergency Management and Health Acts do not appear to deal with economic consequences such as overdue mortgage payments or contractual obligations unmet because of illness.

“If Parliament is adjourned for some lengthy period of time, under what conventions will Ministers operate, particularly at such a time of national calamity?

“As the country prepares for the uncertain risk of an influenza pandemic it is vital that a multi-party approach be taken in the national interest,” says Mr Ryall.


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