Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Shadow Minister (Home Office) 4:59 pm, 13th October 2020

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Gentleman. I do not always agree with him, but he does always make me think. I hope to be able, on behalf of my constituents, to articulate their anxiety, their confusion and their frustration with today having been placed, along with the rest of the Liverpool city region, under tier 3 restrictions. The imposition of such stringent measures has come as a surprise to us. I want to make it clear that this decision, including the specificity on the businesses that are closing and the restrictions on movement and on people, has been made by the Government. There was an ad hoc process of discussion with local leaders, but there was no proper mechanism for consulting them about these measures which will have such a huge impact on the 1.6 million people across our city region. So for the Government to say that this was agreed is like me saying to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that we have agreed that I will have only three minutes to speak in this debate.

That is important because it speaks to the heart of the lack of trust and public confidence in the Government, and I say that with a heavy heart. Businesses have played their part in my community: pubs, gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos have all expended huge amounts of money and resources in getting themselves ready to reopen, only to have been let down by systemic failures on the part of the Government on test, trace and isolate. I am not opposed to restrictions where they are required and necessary, and let me say clearly that I am worried about the rising rate of infection in Merseyside and in St Helens, and about the increased incidence of hospitalisations, but if these restrictions are to be imposed, we need to see evidence for them and a measure of financial support. It speaks volumes that not only have the Government failed to provide that in a bespoke way for St Helens and Merseyside, but they have stopped local leaders using the £40 million unallocated from the first round of business support to help businesses that are now having to shut their doors, and they have asked for that money back. That is shameful and it is not a way for the Government to bring the public along with them.

This is fundamentally about the people who live in my constituency. We are a resilient people in St Helens and we have been through a lot, but resilience is not enough to get us through this. We need help from the Government. Our businesses need the resources to survive, and our NHS needs the tools and staff to get through a difficult number of months. I fail to see how imposing a tier 3 lockdown on one part of the country with diverse rates contained within its entity will do very much to mitigate this—the SAGE report said the same yesterday. It is time that everybody shared in the pain in a short break—a national lockdown for two weeks—to get this under control and for the Government to develop an exit strategy to get the whole country out of this mess.