Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:34 am on 22nd April 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 11:34 am, 22nd April 2020

I share the sentiments of the First Secretary in relation to all those working on the frontline. I also pay tribute to all those who have ramped up the capacity of the NHS. It has been incredible to see what has happened in the past few weeks, and I know that that has been a huge effort.

I understand the challenge of getting the right equipment to the right place every time, but, as the First Secretary knows, there is a significant gap between promise and delivery. Over the past few days, it has emerged that British manufacturers have got in touch with many Opposition Members, and probably with Members across the House, saying that they offered to help to produce protective equipment but did not get a response from the Government. I understand due diligence, and that not all the offers could be taken up, but some of those who offered to help are now supplying in other countries, so they clearly could have supplied in this country.

Something is going wrong, and there is a pattern emerging here. We were slow into lockdown, slow on testing, slow on protective equipment and now slow to take up those offers from British firms. The Prime Minister has said that this is a national effort, and he is right about that. In that spirit, I ask the First Secretary to commit to working with the Opposition to identify and take up those offers from British manufacturers for protective equipment as soon as possible.