Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 17th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 12:38 pm, 17th June 2020

I will try to answer as many of the questions as I can. First, I concur entirely that we should have no truck with anti-vaccination campaigners. The reason we are working so hard with full-blown clinical trials on these vaccines is to ensure that they are safe, and if they are declared scientifically safe, anyone who is recommended to have one should have one.

The hon. Gentleman made a case on student nurses. It is wrong to suggest that student nurses and midwives are being made redundant. All student nurses and midwives are required to complete placements during their training. As part of the response to covid-19, those hours have been paid and will be until the end of the summer. NHS England has been provided with the funding for student salaries as part of our response to covid-19. The chief nurse has taken that forward.

The hon. Gentleman made a point about local authorities getting data. We have provided more data to them, and we will continue to do more. He asked about the steps that will be taken in future on lifting the lockdown. As ever, we will move carefully and cautiously. Thankfully, all the main indexes—the main ways that we measure this disease—are moving in the right direction. We are winning the battle against this disease, but we will be careful and cautious in the next steps that we take.

We are working very closely with local authorities on local lockdowns. The hon. Gentleman specifically raised the point about powers, as he has before. I have powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020, passed by this Parliament. If powers are needed by local authorities, then there is a process to raise that requirement up through a command chain that leads to a gold command, which I chair, and then those powers can be executed on behalf of local authorities if they are needed.

The hon. Gentleman asked about shielding. We will bring forward the proposals for the next steps on shielding very shortly.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman asked about the positive cases that do not go into the NHS test and trace scheme. That is largely because they are in-patients in hospital, and therefore testing and tracing in the normal sense does not apply because we know exactly where the person is and who has been in contact with them as they have been in hospital, in a controlled environment. That is the case for the large majority of the gap.