MSPs return to Holyrood today for one of their last duties before an expected extended Easter closure as they consider broad emergency powers to tackle coronavirus.

SNP minsters have laid a legislative consent memorandum asking MSPs to support the UK Government’s Coronavirus Bill.

The legislation will give Scottish ministers wide-ranging temporary powers to boost the NHS workforce and act against those who flout measures to slow the disease.

These include the power to ban gatherings and close schools, pubs and other premises on public health grounds.

The police will get extra powers to deal with those refusing to comply, and it will be simpler to detain the mentally ill for their own wellbeing and that of others.

Because the Bill intrudes on devolved areas normally handled by Holyrood, MSPs are being asked to consent to Westminster handling the legislation on their behalf.

Other steps include the emergency registration of health and social work professionals, new mental health legislation, and new death certificate and cremation rules.

There will be powers to direct funeral businesses to do anything required for the transport, storage and disposal of dead bodies.

If MSPs resign or die before the next Scottish election in May 2021, there will also be a power for the Presiding Officer to postpone a byelection.

This would allow the disgraced former SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to resign as the MSP for Renfrewshire North and West without a byelection.

Council byelections in Scotland for casual vacancies can also be postponed.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and Constitutional Relation Secretary Michael Russell will both give evidence to Holyrood committees on the Bill this morning.

The full Holyrood chamber will then be asked to approve it this afternoon.

Subject to parliamentary agreement, the UK Coronavirus Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law by the end of March.