Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers
About the Commission
The Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers is chaired by The Rt. Hon. Sir Jack Beatson FBA. The Commission will review the UK's public health legislative framework and institutional arrangements, alongside Government decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will consider how far current legal frameworks and parliamentary procedures protect the Rule of Law and human rights, and how far they promote accountability, transparency and parliamentary control of executive action. The Commission will explore these issues in the context of securing timely and effective public health outcomes. It will make recommendations for changes in law, policy, practice and procedure, and plans to publish its findings in a report in early 2024.
The aim is that the Independent Commission's findings and recommendations will help to inform planning for future public health emergencies. More immediately, the Independent Commission's final report will be published in order to assist the UK and Scottish Covid-19 Public Inquiries. The Independent Commission will provide a legal and constitutional analysis of existing and alternative emergency public health laws, parliamentary procedures for responding to public health emergencies, and the ways in which emergency laws and public health guidance were made, scrutinised, utilised and disseminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this way, the Independent Commission will meet a need identified by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution for "a review of the use of emergency powers by the Government, and the scrutiny of those powers by Parliament, [to] take place in advance of the public inquiry" and "be completed in time to inform the public inquiry and planning for any future emergencies".
The Independent Commission has appointed 12 Commissioners to work alongside The Rt. Hon. Sir Jack Beatson FBA as Chair. The Commission brings together leading policy experts, practitioners, parliamentarians and academics working in the field. The Commissioners will be working in smaller groups to focus on key issues, including the legislative framework, parliamentary oversight of executive action, and international comparisons.
The Bingham Centre will be providing the Secretariat to the Independent Commission in line with the Commission's agreed Terms of Reference.
The Bingham Centre's team consists of Lucy Moxham, Senior Research Fellow, and Katie Lines, Research Fellow at the Centre.