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Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

First, I welcome the various points of solidarity between our Front-Bench teams in relation not only to the new baby boy for the Prime Minister and Carrie Symonds but to the care workers and NHS workers who have lost their lives.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right that there is a challenge in deciphering the difference between the different figures because of the time lags in relation to the care home deaths. Equally, I know that on all sides we have wanted to deliver a clearer breakdown of and distinction between care home deaths and deaths in the NHS. I think that is progress.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned the target of 20,000. Of course, this is an unprecedented pandemic—a global pandemic—and in fairness we should not criticise either the chief medical officer or the deputy chief medical officer for trying to give some forecast in response to the questions that many in this Chamber and in the media are calling for. The reality is that we know a lot more about the virus, both domestically and internationally, than we did before.

I absolutely share with the right hon. and learned Gentleman our joint horror at the number of deaths—tragedies each and every one. Equally, I disagree with him: it is far too early to make international comparisons. If they are to be done, they should be done on a per capita basis. We are already seeing that deaths are measured in different ways, not just in the different settings in the UK but across Europe and around the world. This is of course, as I have said, a very delicate and dangerous moment in this pandemic, which is why, with the greatest respect, we need to wait until we have further evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies before moving towards a transitional phase or a second phase. It would be irresponsible right now to start setting out in detail what proposals we might come up with in advance of having that advice from SAGE.