Ministers should not allow the approach to legislating in response to the pandemic to become a template for future law-making, the former Treasury solicitor has warned in an outspoken article. 

Writing in the Guardian, Jonathan Jones, who announced his resignation as head of the Government Legal Department last year amid the row over the UK Internal Market Bill, noted that almost all the pandemic measures have been passed as secondary legislation. While the government’s approach may be justifiable for the most pressing of emergencies, it should not become a template for future policies or law-making, more generally. 

Jonathan Jones, treasury solicitor

Jonathan Jones

’That would lead to worse policy and worse law, and undermine political and public respect for both,’ he states. 

Jones is critical of the way ministers have 'very often followed the most urgent form of parliamentary procedure' with no political scrutiny. 

One example of hasty law-making is the quarantine regime on travellers arriving from overseas, which gave only a weekend’s notice of the detailed obligations contained in the new law. 'None of that promotes confidence in the law or the way it is produced. It also doesn’t help people understand what the law says or comply with it – this is particularly key during the pandemic when compliance with certain rules is potentially a matter of life and death.'