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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:32 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of David Simmonds David Simmonds Conservative, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner 4:32 pm, 18th March 2020

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I have been very much reassured by what I have heard from Ministers over a number of days about the initiatives that are taking place to ensure that ventilators, for example, and other equipment are available. One of the things I am particularly aware of because of my local government experience and knowledge of what local resilience forums do is that there are long-standing plans in place, backed up by stockpiles of various different types of equipment that may be required. It is welcome that the Minister has been very clear today that, based on need and local requirements, the distribution of that is going to begin, particularly for the volunteer groups that many colleagues have referred to, with people who are not familiar with some of the challenges and risks that may be involved in treating patients with serious illnesses; the knowledge that they can access good quality personal protective equipment supplied through central Government and by their local authority, is going to be absolutely crucial.

In conclusion, I would simply like to make the following point. We have seen examples up and down the land of local authorities consistently on a cross-party basis—I can think of examples from the response of Manchester to the Arena bombing to those of local authorities across the country to the refugee crisis in Europe—where our local government colleagues have demonstrated very capably that they will rise to any challenge which this House sets. It is most welcome that Ministers have been clear that they will provide the financial resources that are central to the delivery of that, and I trust that all hon. Members will be providing a similar degree of cross-party moral support to our colleagues in local government that at this time of national challenge, we need to work together and rise to it together.