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Statutory Sick Pay and Protection for Workers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, North East Bedfordshire 2:27 pm, 18th March 2020

I am grateful to you for allowing me to speak, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I apologise to Margaret Greenwood that I was not in the Chamber for the first part of her speech. I wanted to listen and make a contribution, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

I thank the Opposition for holding this debate, which covers two of the things that are on most people’s minds: reducing the likelihood that I, anyone in my family or anyone I work with will get sick, and providing protection for me if that does happen; and trying to protect my job over the next few weeks and as we recover. The debate has raised a number of issues. I am not going to pick out any particular ones, but I want to make some observations.

The first is what a difference a week has made. It is seven days since the Budget, and these are very different circumstances. We should give credit for all the efforts made in this House and for the measures that the Government have taken to respond as quickly as they can on such a wide range of issues. None of us in this room has the power of the Almighty, and we should understand that we work within human frailties. I will come back to the frailties of the systems that we work within.

Secondly, I would like to add to some of the examples given by Neil Gray about the public’s response. This week, I have met churches that are working on good neighbourhood schemes. I spoke today with a playwright in the village of Arlesey who is setting up a group to bring skills together in the community, to assist people. We are seeing the best of people, but as some Members have said, we are also seeing the worst of people. In a free society, we can see the best, but we can frequently see the worst. Harley Street doctors are reselling tests at a high price that will not be available to everyone. That is a disgraceful thing for anyone with a professional qualification to do. We have seen pictures of hoarders in shops, meaning that elderly and vulnerable constituents of mine—and, I am sure, of all Members—are not able to access the foodstuffs and other products they need. We have seen the reaction of the bosses of some of the largest companies.